Pollen tubes extend through pistil tissues and are guided to ovules where they release sperm for fertilization. Although pollen tubes can germinate and elongate in a synthetic medium, their trajectory is random and their growth rates are slower compared to growth in pistil tissues. Furthermore, interaction with the pistil renders pollen tubes competent to respond to guidance cues secreted by specialized cells within the ovule. The molecular basis for this potentiation of the pollen tube by the pistil remains uncharacterized. Using microarray analysis in Arabidopsis, we show that pollen tubes that have grown through stigma and style tissues of a pistil have a distinct gene expression profile and express a substantially larger fraction of the Arabidopsis genome than pollen grains or pollen tubes grown in vitro. Genes involved in signal transduction, transcription, and pollen tube growth are overrepresented in the subset of the Arabidopsis genome that is enriched in pistil-interacted pollen tubes, suggesting the possibility of a regulatory network that orchestrates gene expression as pollen tubes migrate through the pistil. Reverse genetic analysis of genes induced during pollen tube growth identified seven that had not previously been implicated in pollen tube growth. Two genes are required for pollen tube navigation through the pistil, and five genes are required for optimal pollen tube elongation in vitro. Our studies form the foundation for functional genomic analysis of the interactions between the pollen tube and the pistil, which is an excellent system for elucidation of novel modes of cell–cell interaction.
For successful reproduction in flowering plants, a single-celled pollen tube must rapidly extend through female pistil tissue, locate female gametes, and deliver sperm. Pollen tubes undergo a dramatic transformation while growing in the pistil; they grow faster compared to tubes grown in vitro and become competent to perceive and respond to navigation cues secreted by the pistil. The genes expressed by pollen tubes in response to growth in the pistil have not been characterized. We used a surgical procedure to obtain large quantities of uncontaminated pollen tubes that grew through the pistil and defined their transcriptome by microarray analysis. Importantly, we identify a set of genes that are specifically expressed in pollen tubes in response to their growth in the pistil and are not expressed during other stages of pollen or plant development. We analyzed mutants in 33 pollen tube–expressed genes using a sensitive series of pollen function assays and demonstrate that seven of these genes are critical for pollen tube growth; two specifically disrupt growth in the pistil. By identifying pollen tube genes induced by the pistil and describing a mutant analysis scheme to understand their function, we lay the foundation for functional genomic analysis of pollen–pistil interactions.
Many flowering plants produce bicellular pollen. The two cells of the pollen grain are destined for separate fates in the male gametophyte, which provides a unique opportunity to study genetic interactions that govern guided single-cell polar expansion of the growing pollen tube and the coordinated control of germ cell division and sperm cell fate specification. We applied the Agilent 44 K tobacco gene chip to conduct the first transcriptomic analysis of the tobacco male gametophyte. In addition, we performed a comparative study of the Arabidopsis root-hair trichoblast transcriptome to evaluate genetic factors and common pathways involved in polarized cell-tip expansion.
Progression of pollen grains from freshly dehisced anthers to pollen tubes 4 h after germination is accompanied with > 5,161 (14.9%) gametophyte-specific expressed probes active in at least one of the developmental stages. In contrast, > 18,821 (54.4%) probes were preferentially expressed in the sporophyte. Our comparative approach identified a subset of 104 pollen tube-expressed genes that overlap with root-hair trichoblasts. Reverse genetic analysis of selected candidates demonstrated that Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase 1 (CSD1), a WD-40 containing protein (BP130384), and Replication factor C1 (NtRFC1) are among the central regulators of pollen-tube tip growth. Extension of our analysis beyond the second haploid mitosis enabled identification of an opposing-dynamic accumulation of core regulators of cell proliferation and cell fate determinants in accordance with the progression of the germ cell cycle.
The current study provides a foundation to isolate conserved regulators of cell tip expansion and those that are unique for pollen tube growth to the female gametophyte. A transcriptomic data set is presented as a benchmark for future functional studies using developing pollen as a model. Our results demonstrated previously unknown functions of certain genes in pollen-tube tip growth. In addition, we highlighted the molecular dynamics of core cell-cycle regulators in the male gametophyte and postulated the first genetic model to account for the differential timing of spermatogenesis among angiosperms and its coordination with female gametogenesis.
Pollen development from the microspore involves a series of coordinated cellular events, and the resulting mature pollen has a specialized function to quickly germinate, produce a polar-growth pollen tube derived from the vegetative cell, and deliver two sperm cells into the embryo sac for double fertilization. The gene expression profiles of developing and germinated pollen have been characterised by use of the eudicot model plant Arabidopsis. Rice, one of the most important cereal crops, has been used as an excellent monocot model. A comprehensive analysis of transcriptome profiles of developing and germinated pollen in rice is important to understand the conserved and diverse mechanism underlying pollen development and germination in eudicots and monocots.
We used Affymetrix GeneChip® Rice Genome Array to comprehensively analyzed the dynamic changes in the transcriptomes of rice pollen at five sequential developmental stages from microspores to germinated pollen. Among the 51,279 transcripts on the array, we found 25,062 pollen-preferential transcripts, among which 2,203 were development stage-enriched. The diversity of transcripts decreased greatly from microspores to mature and germinated pollen, whereas the number of stage-enriched transcripts displayed a "U-type" change, with the lowest at the bicellular pollen stage; and a transition of overrepresented stage-enriched transcript groups associated with different functional categories, which indicates a shift in gene expression program at the bicellular pollen stage. About 54% of the now-annotated rice F-box protein genes were expressed preferentially in pollen. The transcriptome profile of germinated pollen was significantly and positively correlated with that of mature pollen. Analysis of expression profiles and coexpressed features of the pollen-preferential transcripts related to cell cycle, transcription, the ubiquitin/26S proteasome system, phytohormone signalling, the kinase system and defense/stress response revealed five expression patterns, which are compatible with changes in major cellular events during pollen development and germination. A comparison of pollen transcriptomes between rice and Arabidopsis revealed that 56.6% of the rice pollen preferential genes had homologs in Arabidopsis genome, but 63.4% of these homologs were expressed, with a small proportion being expressed preferentially, in Arabidopsis pollen. Rice and Arabidopsis pollen had non-conservative transcription factors each.
Our results demonstrated that rice pollen expressed a set of reduced but specific transcripts in comparison with vegetative tissues, and the number of stage-enriched transcripts displayed a "U-type" change during pollen development, with the lowest at the bicellular pollen stage. These features are conserved in rice and Arabidopsis. The shift in gene expression program at the bicellular pollen stage may be important to the transition from earlier cell division to later pollen maturity. Pollen at maturity pre-synthesized transcripts needed for germination and early pollen tube growth. The transcription regulation associated with pollen development would have divergence between the two species. Our results also provide novel insights into the molecular program and key components of the regulatory network regulating pollen development and germination.
Sexual reproduction in higher plants relies upon the polarised growth of pollen tubes. The growth-site at the pollen tube tip responds to signalling processes to successfully steer the tube to an ovule. Essential features of pollen tube growth are polarisation of ion fluxes, intracellular ion gradients, and oscillating dynamics. However, little is known about how these features are generated and how they are causally related. We propose that ion dynamics in biological systems should be studied in an integrative and self-regulatory way. Here we have developed a two-compartment model by integrating major ion transporters at both the tip and shank of pollen tubes. We demonstrate that the physiological features of polarised growth in the pollen tube can be explained by the localised distribution of transporters at the tip and shank. Model analysis reveals that the tip and shank compartments integrate into a self-regulatory dynamic system, however the oscillatory dynamics at the tip do not play an important role in maintaining ion gradients. Furthermore, an electric current travelling along the pollen tube contributes to the regulation of ion dynamics. Two candidate mechanisms for growth-induced oscillations are proposed: the transition of tip membrane into shank membrane, and growth-induced changes in kinetic parameters of ion transporters. The methodology and principles developed here are applicable to the study of ion dynamics and their interactions with other functional modules in any plant cellular system.
Tubulin genes are intimately associated with cell division and cell elongation, which are central to plant secondary cell wall development. However, their roles in pollen tube polar growth remain elusive. Here, a TUA1 gene from Picea wilsonii, which is specifically expressed in pollen, was isolated. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that the amount of PwTUA1 transcript varied at each stage of growth of the pollen tube and was induced by calcium ions and boron. Transient expression analysis in P. wilsonii pollen indicated that PwTUA1 improved pollen germination and pollen tube growth. The pollen of transgenic Arabidopsis overexpressing PwTUA1 also showed a higher percentage of germination and faster growth than wild-type plants not only in optimal germination medium, but also in medium supplemented with elevated levels of exogenous calcium ions or boron. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy showed α-tubulin to be enriched and more vesicles accumulated in the apex region in germinating transgenic Arabidopsis pollen compared with wild-type plants. These results demonstrate that PwTUA1 up-regulated by calcium ions and boron contributes to pollen tube elongation by altering the distribution of α-tubulin and regulating the deposition of pollen cell wall components during the process of tube growth. The possible role of PwTUA1 in microtubule dynamics and organization was discussed.
Microtubules; Picea wilsonii; pollen tube; PwTUA1; transgenic Arabidopsis; α-tubulin
Two sperm cells are required to achieve double fertilization in flowering plants (angiosperms). In contrast to animals and lower plants such as mosses and ferns, sperm cells of flowering plants (angiosperms) are immobile and are transported to the female gametes (egg and central cell) via the pollen tube. The two sperm cells arise from the generative pollen cell either within the pollen grain or after germination inside the pollen tube. While pollen tube growth and sperm behavior has been intensively investigated in model plant species such as tobacco and lily, little is know about sperm dynamics and behavior during pollen germination, tube growth and sperm release in grasses. In the March issue of Journal of Experimental Botany, we have reported about the sporophytic and gametophytic control of pollen tube germination, growth and guidance in maize.1 Five progamic phases were distinguished involving various prezygotic crossing barriers before sperm cell delivery inside the female gametophyte takes place. Using live cell imaging and a generative cell-specific promoter driving α-tubulin-YFP expression in the male germline, we report here the formation of the male germline inside the pollen grain and the sperm behaviour during pollen germination and their movement dynamics during tube growth in maize.
male gametophyte; generative cell; sperm; pollen tube; tubulin; fertilization; maize
The cell wall is important for pollen tube growth, but little is known about the molecular mechanism that controls cell wall deposition in pollen tubes. Here, the functional characterization of the pollen-expressed Arabidopsis cellulose synthase-like D genes CSLD1 and CSLD4 that are required for pollen tube growth is reported. Both CSLD1 and CSLD4 are highly expressed in mature pollen grains and pollen tubes. The CSLD1 and CSLD4 proteins are located in the Golgi apparatus and transported to the plasma membrane of the tip region of growing pollen tubes, where cellulose is actively synthesized. Mutations in CSLD1 and CSLD4 caused a significant reduction in cellulose deposition in the pollen tube wall and a remarkable disorganization of the pollen tube wall layers, which disrupted the genetic transmission of the male gametophyte. In csld1 and csld4 single mutants and in the csld1 csld4 double mutant, all the mutant pollen tubes exhibited similar phenotypes: the pollen tubes grew extremely abnormally both in vitro and in vivo, which indicates that CSLD1 and CSLD4 are not functionally redundant. Taken together, these results suggest that CSLD1 and CSLD4 play important roles in pollen tube growth, probably through participation in cellulose synthesis of the pollen tube wall.
Arabidopsis; cell wall; cellulose; CSLD1; CSLD4; pollen tube
Pollen grains play important roles in the reproductive processes of flowering plants. The roles of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination and in pollen tube growth are comparatively less well understood. To investigate the functions of apoplastic proteins in pollen germination, the global apoplastic proteins of mature and germinated Arabidopsis thaliana pollen grains were prepared for differential analyses by using 2-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2-D DIGE) saturation labeling techniques. One hundred and three proteins differentially expressed (p value ≤ 0.01) in pollen germinated for 6h compare with un-germination mature pollen, and 98 spots, which represented 71 proteins, were identified by LC-MS/MS. By bioinformatics analysis, 50 proteins were identified as secreted proteins. These proteins were mainly involved in cell wall modification and remodeling, protein metabolism and signal transduction. Three of the differentially expressed proteins were randomly selected to determine their subcellular localizations by transiently expressing YFP fusion proteins. The results of subcellular localization were identical with the bioinformatics prediction. Based on these data, we proposed a model for apoplastic proteins functioning in pollen germination and pollen tube growth. These results will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms of pollen germination and pollen tube growth.
Arabidopsis thaliana; pollen germination; apoplast; 2-D DIGE; proteomic
Polarized cell elongation is triggered by small molecule cues during development of diverse organisms. During plant reproduction, pollen interactions with the stigma result in the polar outgrowth of a pollen tube, which delivers sperm cells to the female gametophyte to effect double fertilization. In many plants, pistils stimulate pollen germination. However, in Arabidopsis, the effect of pistils on pollen germination and the pistil factors that stimulate pollen germination remain poorly characterized. Here, we demonstrate that stigma, style, and ovules in Arabidopsis pistils stimulate pollen germination. We isolated an Arabidopsis pistil extract fraction that stimulates Arabidopsis pollen germination, and employed ultrahigh resolution ESI FT-ICR and MS/MS techniques to accurately determine the mass (202.126 daltons) of a compound that is specifically present in this pistil extract fraction. Using the molecular formula (C10H19NOS) and tandem mass spectral fragmentation patterns of the m/z (mass to charge ratio) 202.126 ion, we postulated chemical structures, devised protocols, synthesized N-Methanesulfinyl 1- and 2-azadecalins that are close structural mimics of the m/z 202.126 ion, and showed that they are sufficient to stimulate Arabidopsis pollen germination in vitro (30 µM stimulated ~50% germination) and elicit accession-specific response. Although N-Methanesulfinyl 2-azadecalin stimulated pollen germination in three species of Lineage I of Brassicaceae, it did not induce a germination response in Sisymbrium irio (Lineage II of Brassicaceae) and tobacco, indicating that activity of the compound is not random. Our results show that Arabidopsis pistils promote germination by producing azadecalin-like molecules to ensure rapid fertilization by the appropriate pollen.
Pollen; pistil; germination; stimulant; chemical biology; functional mimic
Plant sexual reproduction involves the growth of tip-polarized pollen tubes through the female tissues in order to deliver the sperm nuclei to the egg cells. Despite the importance of this crucial step, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in this spatial and temporal control of the tube growth. In order to study this process and to characterize the structural composition of the extracellular matrix of the male gametophyte, immunocytochemical and biochemical analyses of Arabidopsis pollen tube wall have been carried out. Results showed a well-defined localization of cell wall epitopes with highly esterified homogalacturonan and arabinogalactan-protein mainly in the tip region, weakly methylesterified homogalacturonan back from the tip and xyloglucan and (1→5)-α-L-arabinan all along the tube. Here, we present complementary data regarding (1) the ultrastructure of the pollen tube cell wall and (2) the immunolocalization of homogalacturonan and arabinan epitopes in 16-h-old pollen tubes and in the stigma and the transmitting tract of the female organ. Discussion regarding the pattern of the distribution of the cell wall epitopes and the possible mechanisms of cell adhesion between the pollen tubes and the female tissues is provided.
arabinan; cell adhesion; cell wall; homogalacturonan; pistil; pollen tube growth; transmitting tract
Pollen tubes deliver sperm after navigating through flower tissues in response to attractive and repulsive cues. Genetic analyses in maize and Arabidopsis thaliana and cell ablation studies in Torenia fournieri have shown that the female gametophyte (the 7-celled haploid embryo sac within an ovule) and surrounding diploid tissues are essential for guiding pollen tubes to ovules. The variety and inaccessibility of these cells and tissues has made it challenging to characterize the sources of guidance signals and the dynamic responses they elicit in the pollen tubes.
Here we developed an in vitro assay to study pollen tube guidance to excised A. thaliana ovules. Using this assay we discerned the temporal and spatial regulation and species-specificity of late stage guidance signals and characterized the dynamics of pollen tube responses. We established that unfertilized A. thaliana ovules emit diffusible, developmentally regulated, species-specific attractants, and demonstrated that ovules penetrated by pollen tubes rapidly release diffusible pollen tube repellents.
These results demonstrate that in vitro pollen tube guidance to excised A. thaliana ovules efficiently recapitulates much of in vivo pollen tube behaviour during the final stages of pollen tube growth. This assay will aid in confirming the roles of candidate guidance molecules, exploring the phenotypes of A. thaliana pollen tube guidance mutants and characterizing interspecies pollination interactions.
Species-preferential osmotic pollen tube burst and sperm discharge in maize involve induced opening of the pollen tube-expressed potassium channel KZM1 by the egg apparatus-derived defensin-like protein ZmES4.
In contrast to animals and lower plant species, sperm cells of flowering plants are non-motile and are transported to the female gametes via the pollen tube, i.e. the male gametophyte. Upon arrival at the female gametophyte two sperm cells are discharged into the receptive synergid cell to execute double fertilization. The first players involved in inter-gametophyte signaling to attract pollen tubes and to arrest their growth have been recently identified. In contrast the physiological mechanisms leading to pollen tube burst and thus sperm discharge remained elusive. Here, we describe the role of polymorphic defensin-like cysteine-rich proteins ZmES1-4 (Zea mays embryo sac) from maize, leading to pollen tube growth arrest, burst, and explosive sperm release. ZmES1-4 genes are exclusively expressed in the cells of the female gametophyte. ZmES4-GFP fusion proteins accumulate in vesicles at the secretory zone of mature synergid cells and are released during the fertilization process. Using RNAi knock-down and synthetic ZmES4 proteins, we found that ZmES4 induces pollen tube burst in a species-preferential manner. Pollen tube plasma membrane depolarization, which occurs immediately after ZmES4 application, as well as channel blocker experiments point to a role of K+-influx in the pollen tube rupture mechanism. Finally, we discovered the intrinsic rectifying K+ channel KZM1 as a direct target of ZmES4. Following ZmES4 application, KZM1 opens at physiological membrane potentials and closes after wash-out. In conclusion, we suggest that vesicles containing ZmES4 are released from the synergid cells upon male-female gametophyte signaling. Subsequent interaction between ZmES4 and KZM1 results in channel opening and K+ influx. We further suggest that K+ influx leads to water uptake and culminates in osmotic tube burst. The species-preferential activity of polymorphic ZmES4 indicates that the mechanism described represents a pre-zygotic hybridization barrier and may be a component of reproductive isolation in plants.
Sperm cells of animals and lower plants are mobile and can swim to the oocyte or egg cell. In contrast, flowering plants generate immobile sperm encased in a pollen coat to protect them from drying out and are transported via the pollen tube cell towards the egg apparatus to achieve double fertilization. Upon arrival the pollen tube tip bursts to deliver two sperm cells, one fusing with the egg cell to generate the embryo and the other fusing with the central cell to generate the endosperm. Here, we report the mechanisms leading to pollen tube burst and sperm discharge in maize. We found that before fertilization the defensin-like protein ZmES1-4 is stored in the secretory zone of the egg apparatus cells and that pollen tubes cannot discharge sperm in ZmES1-4 knock-down plants. Application of chemically synthesized ZmES4 leads to pollen tube burst within seconds in maize, but not in other plant species, suggesting this mechanism may be species specific. Finally, we identified the pollen tube-expressed potassium channel KZM1 as a target of ZmES4, which opens after ZmES4 treatment and probably leads to K+ influx and sperm release after osmotic burst.
In eukaryotes, fertilization relies on complex and specialized mechanisms that achieve the precise delivery of the male gamete to the female gamete and their subsequent union [1–4]. In flowering plants, the haploid male gametophyte or pollen tube (PT)  carries two non-motile sperm cells to the female gametophyte (FG) or embryo sac  during a long assisted journey through the maternal tissues [7–10]. In Arabidopsis, typically one PT reaches one of the two synergids of the FG (Figure 1A) where it terminates its growth and delivers the sperm cells, a poorly understood process called pollen tube reception. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of the Arabidopsis mutant abstinence by mutual consent. Interestingly, pollen tube reception is impaired only when an amc pollen tube reaches an amc female gametophyte resulting in pollen tube overgrowth and completely preventing sperm discharge and the development of homozygous mutants. Moreover, we show that AMC is strongly and transiently expressed in both male and female gametophytes during fertilization and that AMC functions in gametophytes as a peroxin essential for protein import into peroxisomes. These findings show that peroxisomes play an unexpected key role in gametophyte recognition and implicate a diffusible signal emanating from either gametophytes that is required for pollen tube discharge.
A positive correlation between the speed of pollen tube growth and the quality of the resulting progeny in several species of flowering plants has traditionally been explained as being caused by an overlap in gene expression between gametophytes and sporophytes. We experimentally manipulated the pollen tube growth rates of pollen donors, such that the genotype controlling the rate was uncoupled from the phenotype, to test the alternative hypothesis that the correlation arises because ovules fertilized early are better provisioned by the maternal plant than later-fertilized ovules. Crosses using Silene vulgaris individuals bearing distinctive genetic markers revealed a correlation between the order of fertilization by pollen grains and vigour of the resulting sporophytes, which was independent of the speed of growth of the pollen tubes. Seeds sired by donors with relatively fast-growing pollen germinated earlier and grew larger than those sired by slow-growing pollen when pollen from the two donors was applied simultaneously. Reversing the order of arrival in the ovary by placing slow-growing pollen on the styles earlier and closer to the ovary led to reverse results. These results suggest that differential provisioning by the maternal plant can lead to differences in progeny vigour following pollen competition.
Essential features of pollen tube growth are polarization of extracellular ion fluxes, intracellular ion gradients and oscillating dynamics. These features in pollen tube growth are regulated by a wide range of spatiotemporally organized functions such as exocytosis and endocytosis, actin cytoskeleton reorganization, cell wall deposition and assembly, intracellular signaling, fertilization and self-incompatibility. Recently, by developing a compartmental model, we have demonstrated that the tip and shank in a pollen tube combine in an integrative and self-regulatory system of ion and growth dynamics. Recent developments in modelling and the wealth of experimental data can be used to develop a systems model that provides an integrative view of the the interactions between the different functions that affect pollen tube growth.
pollen tube; tip growth; systems biology; spatiotemporal model; ion gradients; oscillatory dynamics
Arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) are cell wall proteoglycans that have been shown to be important for pollen development. An Arabidopsis double null mutant for two pollen-specific AGPs (agp6 agp11) showed reduced pollen tube growth and compromised response to germination cues in vivo. A microarray experiment was performed on agp6 agp11 pollen tubes to search for genetic interactions in the context of pollen tube growth. A yeast two-hybrid experiment for AGP6 and AGP11 was also designed.
The lack of two specific AGPs induced a meaningful shift in the gene expression profile. In fact, a high number of genes showed altered expression levels, strengthening the case that AGP6 and AGP11 are involved in complex phenomena. The expression levels of calcium- and signaling-related genes were found to be altered, supporting the known roles of the respective proteins in pollen tube growth. Although the precise nature of the proposed interactions needs further investigation, the putative involvement of AGPs in signaling cascades through calmodulin and protein degradation via ubiquitin was indicated. The expression of stress-, as well as signaling- related, genes was also changed; a correlation that may result from the recognized similarities between signaling pathways in both defense and pollen tube growth.
The results of yeast two-hybrid experiments lent further support to these signaling pathways and revealed putative AGP6 and AGP11 interactors implicated in recycling of cell membrane components via endocytosis, through clathrin-mediated endosomes and multivesicular bodies.
The data presented suggest the involvement of AGP6 and AGP11 in multiple signaling pathways, in particular those involved in developmental processes such as endocytosis-mediated plasma membrane remodeling during Arabidopsis pollen development. This highlights the importance of endosomal trafficking pathways which are rapidly emerging as fundamental regulators of the wall physiology.
Arabidopsis; Arabinogalactan proteins; Pollen tube; Microarray; Yeast two-hybrid
Pollen represents an important nitrogen sink in flowers to ensure pollen viability. Since pollen cells are symplasmically isolated during maturation and germination, membrane transporters are required for nitrogen import across the pollen plasma membrane. This study describes the characterization of the ammonium transporter AtAMT1;4, a so far uncharacterized member of the Arabidopsis AMT1 family, which is suggested to be involved in transporting ammonium into pollen. The AtAMT1;4 gene encodes a functional ammonium transporter when heterologously expressed in yeast or when overexpressed in Arabidopsis roots. Concentration-dependent analysis of 15N-labeled ammonium influx into roots of AtAMT1;4-transformed plants allowed characterization of AtAMT1;4 as a high-affinity transporter with a Km of 17 μM. RNA and protein gel blot analysis showed expression of AtAMT1;4 in flowers, and promoter–gene fusions to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) further defined its exclusive expression in pollen grains and pollen tubes. The AtAMT1;4 protein appeared to be localized to the plasma membrane as indicated by protein gel blot analysis of plasma membrane-enriched membrane fractions and by visualization of GFP-tagged AtAMT1;4 protein in pollen grains and pollen tubes. However, no phenotype related to pollen function could be observed in a transposon-tagged line, in which AtAMT1;4 expression is disrupted. These results suggest that AtAMT1;4 mediates ammonium uptake across the plasma membrane of pollen to contribute to nitrogen nutrition of pollen via ammonium uptake or retrieval.
Ammonium uptake; AMTs; Germination; Nitrogen transport; Pollen; Pollen tube
In our previous study we applied the Agilent 44K tobacco gene chip to introduce and analyze the tobacco male gametophyte transcriptome in mature pollen and 4h pollen tubes. Here we extended our analysis post-pollen mitosis II (PMII) by including a new data set obtained from more advanced stage of the ongoing progamic phase – pollen tubes cultivated in vitro for 24 h. Pollen mitosis II marks key events in the control of male gametophyte development, the production of two sperm cells. In bicellular species covering cca 70% of angiosperms including Nicotiana tabacum, PMII takes place after pollen germination in growing pollen tube. We showed the stable and even slightly increasing complexity of tobacco male gametophyte transcriptome over long period of progamic phase–24 h of pollen tube growth. We also demonstrated the ongoing transcription activity and specific transcript accumulation in post-PMII pollen tubes cultivated in vitro. In all, we have identified 320 genes (2.2%) that were newly transcribed at least after 4h of pollen tube cultivation in vitro. Further, 699 genes (4.8%) showed over 5-fold increased accumulation after the 24h of cultivation.
de novo pollen tube transcriptome; male gametophyte development; pollen tube growth; transcriptomics
Background and Aims
During sexual reproduction in higher angiosperms, the pollen tubes are directed to the ovules in the pistil to deliver sperm cells. This pollen tube attraction is highly species specific, and a group of small secreted proteins, TfCRPs, are necessary for this process in Torenia fournieri.
A candidate pollen tube attractant protein in Torenia concolor, a related species of T. fournieri, was isolated and the attractant abilities between them were compared.
TcCRP1, an orthologous gene of TfCRP1 from T. concolor, is expressed predominantly in the synergid cell. The gene product attracted pollen tubes in a concentration-dependent manner, but attracted fewer pollen tubes from the other species.
The results indicated that this class of CRP proteins is a common pollen tube attractant in Torenia species. The sequence diversity of these proteins is important for species-specific pollen tube attraction.
Torenia fournieri; T. concolor; sexual reproduction; TcCRP1; fertilization; pollen tube guidance; synergid cell; defensin; cysteine-rich polypeptide; CRP; speciation
To investigate the role of aquaporin-mediated water transport during pollen grain germination and tube growth, Arabidopsis thaliana plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs) were expressed in pollen of Lilium longiflorum (lily).Successful expression of AtPIPs in particle-bombarded lily pollen grains was monitored by co-expression with fluorescent proteins and single-cell RT-PCR, and by measuring the water permeability coefficient (Pos) in swelling assays using protoplasts prepared from transformed pollen grains and tubes.Expression of AtPIP1;1 and AtPIP1;2 in pollen grains resulted in Pos values similar to those measured in nontransformed pollen grain protoplasts (6.65 ± 2.41 μm s−1), whereas expression of AtPIP2 significantly increased Pos (AtPIP2;1, 13.79 ± 6.38; AtPIP2;2, 10.16 ± 3.30 μm s−1). Transformation with combinations of AtPIP1 and AtPIP2 did not further enhance Pos. Native pollen tube protoplasts showed higher Pos values (13.23 ± 4.14 μm s−1) than pollen grain protoplasts but expression of AtPIP2;1 (18.85 ± 7.60 μm s−1) did not significantly increase their Pos values. Expression of none of the tested PIPs had any effect on pollen tube growth rates.The ectopic expression of AtPIP2s in lily pollen increased the water permeability of the plasma membrane in pollen grains, but not in pollen tubes. The measured endogenous water permeability does not limit water uptake during tube growth, but has to be regulated to prevent tube bursting.
aquaporin; fluorescent protein; pollen; protoplast; tip growth; water transport
The HAP complex occurs in many eukaryotic organisms and is involved in multiple physiological processes. Here it was found that in Picea wilsonii, HAP5 (PwHAP5), a putative CCAAT-binding transcription factor gene, is involved in pollen tube development and control of tube orientation. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR showed that PwHAP5 transcripts were expressed strongly in germinating pollen and could be induced by Ca2+. Overexpression of PwHAP5 in pollen altered pollen tube orientation, whereas the tube with PwHAP5RNAi showed normal growth without diminishing pollen tube growth. Furthermore, PwFKBP12, which encodes an FK506-binding protein (FKBP) was screened and a bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay performed to confirm the interaction of PwHAP5 and PwFKBP12 in vivo. Transient expression of PwFKBP12 in pollen showed normal pollen tube growth, whereas the tube with PwFKBP12RNAi bent. The phenotype of overexpression of HAP5 on pollen tube was restored by FKBP12. Altogether, our study supported the role of HAP5 in pollen tube development and orientation regulation and identified FKBP12 as a novel partner to interact with HAP5 involved in the process.
Growth orientation; Picea wilsonii; pollen tube; PwFKBP12; PwHAP5
The continuous polarized vesicle secretion in pollen tubes is essential for tip growth but the location of endo- and exocytic sub-domains remains however controversial. In this report we aimed to show that Arabidopsis thaliana syntaxins are involved in this process and contribute to spatially define exocytosis and membrane recycling.
Using GFP-fusion constructs, we imaged the distribution of pollen-specific (AtSYP124) and non-pollen syntaxins (AtSYP121 and AtSYP122) in transiently transformed Nicotiana tabacum pollen tubes. All three proteins associate with the plasma membrane and with apical vesicles indicating a conserved action mechanism for all SYPs. However, the GFP tagged SYP124 showed a specific distribution with a higher labelling at the plasma membrane flanks, 10-25 μm behind the apex. This distribution is affected by Ca2+ fluxes as revealed by treatment with Gd3+ (an inhibitor of extracellular Ca2+ influx) and TMB-8 (an inhibitor of intracellular Ca2+ release). Both inhibitors decreased growth rate but the distribution of SYP124 at the plasma membrane was more strongly affected by Gd3+. Competition with a related dominant negative mutant affected the specific distribution of SYP124 but not tip growth. In contrast, co-expression of the phosphatidylinositol-4-monophosphate 5-kinase 4 (PIP5K4) or of the small GTPase Rab11 perturbed polarity and the normal distribution of GFP-SYP but did not inhibit the accumulation in vesicles or at the plasma membrane.
The results presented suggest that in normal growing pollen tubes, a net exocytic flow occurs in the flanks of the tube apex mediated by SYP124. The specific distribution of SYP124 at the plasma membrane is affected by changes in Ca2+ levels in agreement with the importance of this ion for exocytosis. Apical growth and the specific localization of SYP124 were affected by regulators of membrane secretion (Ca2+, PIP5K4 and Rab11) but competition with a dominant negative mutant affected only SYP distribution. These data thus suggest that syntaxins alone do not provide the level of specificity that is required for apical growth and that additional signalling and functional mechanisms are required.
Pollen is the male gametophyte of higher plants. Upon pollination, it germinates and develops into a fast-growing cytoplasmic extension, the pollen tube, which ultimately delivers the sperm into the ovary. The biological relevance of its role, and the uniqueness of this kind of cellular organization, have made pollen the focus of many approaches, and it stands today as one of the best-known models in plant cell biology. In contrast, the genetic background of its development has been until recently largely unknown. Some genes involved have been described and a few functional mutants have been characterized, but only to a limited extent and allowing only a limited understanding of the regulatory mechanisms. Yet, being a relatively simple organ (2 or 3 cells), pollen stands as an excellent target for molecular-biology-based approaches.
Recent studies on Arabidopsis thaliana have characterized the transcriptional profile of pollen grains and microgametogenesis in comparison to sporophytic tissues. They underline the unique characteristics of pollen, not only in terms of a strongly reduced set of genes being expressed, but also in terms of the functions of the proteins encoded and the pathways they are involved in. These approaches have expanded the number of genes with known expression in pollen from a few hundred to nearly eight thousand. While for the first time allowing systems and/or gene-family approaches, this information also expands dramatically the possibility of hypothesis-driven experimentation based on specific gene function predictions. Recent studies reveal this to be the case in, for example, transcriptional regulation, cell-cycle progression and gene-silencing mechanisms in mature pollen.
Pollen; transcriptome; proteome; microarray; Arabidopsis
• Background and Aims It is generally known that fertilization is delayed for more than a few weeks after pollination in Fagales. Recent studies showed that, during that period, pollen tubes grew in pistils in close association with the development of the ovule in a five-step process in Casuarina (Casuarinaceae) and a four-step process in Alnus (Betulaceae). The number of pollen tubes was reduced from many to one, a fact suggesting that delayed fertilization plays a role for gametophyte selection. Myrica (Myricaceae) also shows delayed fertilization for >2 weeks after pollination, but nothing is known of how pollen tubes grow in the pistil during that period.
• Methods Pollen-tube growth and the development of the ovule in pistils was investigated by fluorescent and scanning electron microscopy and analysis of microtome sections of the pistils.
• Key Results Developmental study of the pollen-tube growth in the pistil of M. rubra showed that the tip of the pollen tube was branched or lay in a zigzag pattern in the upper space of the ovarian locule or near the tip of the integument, and subsequently was swollen on the nucellar surface. Such morphological changes indicate that the pollen-tube growth was temporarily arrested before fertilization. The pollen-tube growth in M. rubra can therefore be summarized as occurring in three steps: (1) from the stigma to the ovarian locule; (2) from the ovarian locule to the nucellar surface; and (3) from the nucellar surface to the embryo sac.
• Conclusion Myrica differs from other families in that the pollen tubes arrest their growth on the nucellar surface, probably digesting nutrient from nucellar cells. There is little information on five other families of Fagales. An extensive study is needed to better understand the diversity and function of the mode of pollen-tube growth within the order.
Fagales; fertilization; micropyle; Myrica; Myricaceae; pollen-tube growth
Targeted delivery of immotile sperm through growing pollen tubes is a crucial step in achieving sexual reproduction in angiosperms. Unlike diffuse-growing cells, the growth of a pollen tube is restricted to the very apical region where targeted exocytosis and regulated endocytosis occur. The plant-specific Rho GTPases, Rops, are central organizers for pollen tube polarity. Through effector binding, Rops regulate the tip-focused Ca2+ gradient and the actin cytoskeleton during pollen tube growth. Therefore, understanding the spatiotemporal regulation of Rop activity would reveal how establishment and maintenance of tube polarity as well as re-orientation of the growth axis are accomplished. Recent findings indicated that two feedback loops may be fundamental in maintaining a fine-tuned and dynamic Rop activity. The concerted activities of RopGAP and RopGDI prevent lateral diffusion of activated Rop, restricting Rop activity to the apical plasma membrane. Conversely, pollen receptor kinases (PRKs) and RopGEFs positively feedback regulate Rop activity through protein binding and membrane recruitment. Feedback loops would also be essential for pollen tube re-orientation. Shallow extracellular cues amplified by concerted activities of feedback loops would lead to asymmetric activation of Rop and result in tube re-orientation.
Rho GTPases; Rop; GEF; GAP; GDI; receptor kinase; feedback loop