Skip to main content

Maura C. Cannon

Research Associate Professor


Gsmn 149A
(413) 545-0092


Plant cell wall assembly with focus on hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins

Background and Training

PhD: National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Postdoctoral Training: University of Sussex, UK

Research Summary

A large family of developmentally regulated cell wall structural proteins, the extensins- a subgroup of hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins, is the current focus of research in my lab. Our work is directed towards understanding the role of extensins in wall assembly and in particular how they contribute to the correct positioning of the cell plate during cytokinesis. The plant cell wall is an extracellular matrix with dynamic properties comprising three polymeric networks: cellulosic, pectic and structural glycoproteins. The properties of this self-assembling supermolecular structure arise from its correct assembly, a process about which we know almost nothing.

To place this research in context, it is part of a long-term and far-reaching goal to identify the critical players in plant cell division and cell growth. These processes are continuous throughout the life cycle of a plant; they are punctuated by cell differentiation during cytokinesis, the final stage of cell division. Differentiation usually begins when a cell divides to produce two cells, each different from the other in size, shape and/or contents. Appropriately differentiated cells, growing and working in concert, result in the plant’s architecture, size, shape, color, longevity, and ability to function. To ‘build a plant’ many different molecular events must take place in the cell to ensure that the required molecules are synthesized, processed and delivered to ‘construction sites’ where and when they are required. The plant cell wall is an exquisite example of the end result of such a complex series of regulated events. There are approximately 40 cell types in the model plant Arabidopsis, each with a ‘tailor-made’ wall in constant flux allowing the plant to develop and grow while protecting the cell, hence the plant, from disease and invasion.


Saha P, Ray T, Tang Y, Dutta I, Evangelous NR, Kieliszewski MJ, Chen Y, Cannon MC. Self-rescue of an EXTENSIN mutant reveals alternative gene expression programs and candidate proteins for new cell wall assembly in Arabidopsis. Plant J. 2013 Jul;75(1):104-16. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12204. Epub 2013 May 16.

Lamport DTA, Kieliszewski MJ, Chen Y, & Cannon MC. Role of the Extensin Superfamily in Primary Cell Wall Architecture. 2011. Plant Physiology 156(1):11-19.

Kieliszewski MJ, Lamport DTA, Tan L, Cannon, MC. Hydroxyproline-rich Glycoproteins: Form and Function. 2011. In, P. Ulvskov (ed), Annual Plant Reviews. Plant Polysaccharides: Biosynthesis and Bioengineering. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, Vol 41, pp 321-342.