Substituted xylan polymers constitute a major part of the hemicellulose fraction of plant cell walls, especially in monocotyledons. Endo-1,4-β- xylanases (EC are capable of hydrolyzing substituted xylan polymers into fragments of random size. Many herbivorous animals have evolved intimate relationships with endosymbionts to exploit their enzyme complexes for the degradation of xylan. Here, we report the first finding of a functional endo-1,4-β-xylanase gene from an animal. The gene (Mi-xyl1) was found in the obligate plant-parasitic root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita, and encodes a protein that is classified as a member of glycosyl hydrolase family 5. The expression of Mi-xyl1 is localized in the subventral esophageal gland cells of the nematode. Previous studies have shown that M. incognita has the ability to degrade cellulose and pectic polysaccharides in plant cell walls independent of endosymbionts. Including our current data on Mi-xyl1, we show that the endogenous enzyme complex in root-knot nematode secretions targets essentially all major cell wall carbohydrates to facilitate a stealthy intercellular migration in the host plant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Cell
  • Degrading enzyme
  • Wall


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