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.
The plant root system is important for the uptake of water and nutrients and the anchoring of plants in the soil. Lateral roots (LRs) contribute considerably to root system architecture. Their post-embryonic formation is regulated by hormones and environmental cues. The hormone cytokinin influences LR formation and growth in Arabidopsis thaliana on different levels by disturbing cell division activity and pattern formation. This includes inhibition of the first formative cell division of pericycle founder cells and inhibition of the outgrowth of young LR primordia. Mutant analysis revealed that the cytokinin biosynthesis genes IPT3 and IPT5 and all three cytokinin receptor genes (AHK2, AHK3, and CRE1/AHK4) act redundantly during LR initiation. Mutation of AHK2 and AHK3 caused increased auxin sensitivity of LR formation, corroborating the functional relevance of auxin–cytokinin interaction during LR formation. In contrast, LR development of cytokinin receptor mutants in response to other hormones was mostly similar to that of the wild type, which is consistent with separate response pathways. A noticeable exception was an increased sensitivity of LR elongation to brassinolide in ahk2 ahk3 mutants indicating antagonistic action of cytokinin and brassinosteroid. It is proposed that the multilevel redundancy of the cytokinin system in modulating LR formation reflects its role in mediating environmental cues.
Arabidopsis thaliana; auxin; cytokinin; hormonal cross-talk; lateral root development; root system architecture.
The plant life cycle alternates between two distinct multi-cellular generations, the reduced gametophytes and the dominant sporophyte. Little is known about how generation-specific cell fate, differentiation, and development are controlled by the core regulators of the cell cycle. In Arabidopsis, RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED (RBR), an evolutionarily ancient cell cycle regulator, controls cell proliferation, differentiation, and regulation of a subset of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) genes and METHYLTRANSFERASE 1 (MET1) in the male and female gametophytes, as well as cell fate establishment in the male gametophyte. Here we demonstrate that RBR is also essential for cell fate determination in the female gametophyte, as revealed by loss of cell-specific marker expression in all the gametophytic cells that lack RBR. Maintenance of genome integrity also requires RBR, because diploid plants heterozygous for rbr (rbr/RBR) produce an abnormal portion of triploid offspring, likely due to gametic genome duplication. While the sporophyte of the diploid mutant plants phenocopied wild type due to the haplosufficiency of RBR, genetic analysis of tetraploid plants triplex for rbr (rbr/rbr/rbr/RBR) revealed that RBR has a dosage-dependent pleiotropic effect on sporophytic development, trichome differentiation, and regulation of PRC2 subunit genes CURLY LEAF (CLF) and VERNALIZATION 2 (VRN2), and MET1 in leaves. There were, however, no obvious cell cycle and cell proliferation defects in these plant tissues, suggesting that a single functional RBR copy in tetraploids is capable of maintaining normal cell division but is not sufficient for distinct differentiation and developmental processes. Conversely, in leaves of mutants in sporophytic PRC2 subunits, trichome differentiation was also affected and expression of RBR and MET1 was reduced, providing evidence for a RBR-PRC2-MET1 regulatory feedback loop involved in sporophyte development. Together, dosage-sensitive RBR function and its genetic interaction with PRC2 genes and MET1 must have been recruited during plant evolution to control distinct generation-specific cell fate, differentiation, and development.
Understanding the convergent developmental mechanisms of core cell cycle genes is highly instructive in biology. When these genes are essential in development, lethality precludes mutation analysis throughout the life cycle of an organism. We subjected a homozygous lethal mutation in RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED (RBR) of Arabidopsis for tetraploid genetic analysis to study the function of RBR during the plant life cycle. In diploids, while RBR–deficient female gametophytes with features of aberrant cell fate and differentiation were analogous to what was previously reported for male gametophytes, we provide evidence that RBR controls gametic genome duplication, thus genome integrity in the gametophyte-derived progeny. Quantitative reduction of RBR in tetraploids led to identification of rbr heterozygous plants that displayed novel RBR dosage-dependent phenotypes in differentiation and development of the sporophyte albeit the absence of cell cycle defects. These phenotypes coincided with deregulation of conserved epigenetic factors such as Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) genes and METHYLTRANSFERASE 1 (MET1) in the sporophyte, as shown for the gametophytes as well. However, unlike the repression by the PRC2 in gametophytes, RBR is activated by the sporophytic PRC2 subunits, suggesting that distinct modules of the conserved RBR-PRC2-MET1 loop control gametophyte and sporophyte generations in plants.
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
In crosses between the proline-deficient mutant homozygous for p5cs1 and heterozygous for p5cs2 (p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2), used as male, and different Arabidopsis mutants, used as females, the p5cs2 mutant allele was rarely transmitted to the outcrossed progeny, suggesting that the fertility of the male gametophyte carrying mutations in both P5CS1 and P5CS2 is severely compromised.
To confirm the fertility defects of pollen from p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2 mutants, transmission of mutant alleles through pollen was tested in two ways. First, the number of progeny inheriting a dominant sulfadiazine resistance marker linked to p5cs2 was determined. Second, the number of p5cs2/p5cs2 embryos was determined. A ratio of resistant to susceptible plantlets close to 50%, and the absence of aborted embryos were consistent with the hypothesis that the male gametophyte carrying both p5cs1 and p5cs2 alleles is rarely transmitted to the offspring. In addition, in reciprocal crosses with wild type, about 50% of the p5cs2 mutant alleles were transmitted to the sporophytic generation when p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2 was used as a female, while less than 1% of the p5cs2 alleles could be transmitted to the outcrossed progeny when p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2 was used as a male. Morphological and functional analysis of mutant pollen revealed a population of small, degenerated, and unviable pollen grains, indicating that the mutant homozygous for p5cs1 and heterozygous for p5cs2 is impaired in pollen development, and suggesting a role for proline in male gametophyte development. Consistent with these findings, we found that pollen from p5cs1 homozygous mutants, display defects similar to, but less pronounced than pollen from p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2 mutants. Finally, we show that pollen from p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2 plants contains less proline than wild type and that exogenous proline supplied from the beginning of another development can partially complement both morphological and functional pollen defects.
Our data show that the development of the male gametophyte carrying mutations in both P5CS1 and P5CS2 is severely compromised, and indicate that proline is required for pollen development and transmission.
Proline; Male gametophyte; Arabidopsis; p5cs1 p5cs2/P5CS2
An anther includes sporophytic tissues of three outer cell layers and an innermost layer, the tapetum, which encloses a locule where the gametophytic microspores mature to become pollen. The sporophytic tissues also comprise some vascular cells and specialized cells of the stomium aligning the long anther axis for anther dehiscence. Studies of the anther sporophytic cells, especially the tapetum, have recently expanded from the use of microscopy to molecular biology and transcriptomes. The available sequencing technologies, plus the use of laser microdissection and in silico subtraction, have produced high-quality anther sporophyte transcriptomes of rice, Arabidopsis and maize. These transcriptomes have been used for research discoveries and have potential for future discoveries in diverse areas, including developmental gene activity networking and changes in enzyme and metabolic domains, prediction of protein functions by quantity, secretion, antisense transcript regulation, small RNAs and promoters for generating male sterility. We anticipate that these studies with rice and other transcriptomes will expand to encompass other plants, whose genomes will be sequenced soon, with ever-advancing sequencing technologies. In comprehensive gene activity profiling of the anther sporophyte, studies involving transcriptomes will spearhead investigation of the downstream gene activity with proteomics and metabolomics.
Anther; Anther development; Anther transcripts; Sporophyte transcripts; Tapetum; Transcriptomes
Recent studies have shown that reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) are involved in the signalling processes taking place during the interactions pollen-pistil in several plants. The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is an important crop in Mediterranean countries. It is a dicotyledonous species, with a certain level of self-incompatibility, fertilisation preferentially allogamous, and with an incompatibility system of the gametophytic type not well determined yet. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether relevant ROS and NO are present in the stigmatic surface and other reproductive tissues in the olive over different key developmental stages of the reproductive process. This is a first approach to find out the putative function of these signalling molecules in the regulation of the interaction pollen-stigma.
The presence of ROS and NO was analyzed in the olive floral organs throughout five developmental stages by using histochemical analysis at light microscopy, as well as different fluorochromes, ROS and NO scavengers and a NO donor by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The "green bud" stage and the period including the end of the "recently opened flower" and the "dehiscent anther" stages displayed higher concentrations of the mentioned chemical species. The stigmatic surface (particularly the papillae and the stigma exudate), the anther tissues and the pollen grains and pollen tubes were the tissues accumulating most ROS and NO. The mature pollen grains emitted NO through the apertural regions and the pollen tubes. In contrast, none of these species were detected in the style or the ovary.
The results obtained clearly demonstrate that both ROS and NO are produced in the olive reproductive organs in a stage- and tissue- specific manner. The biological significance of the presence of these products may differ between early flowering stages (defence functions) and stages where there is an intense interaction between pollen and pistil which may determine the presence of a receptive phase in the stigma. The study confirms the enhanced production of NO by pollen grains and tubes during the receptive phase, and the decrease in the presence of ROS when NO is actively produced.
One fundamental difference between plants and animals is the existence of a germ-line in animals and its absence in plants. In flowering plants the sexual organs (stamens and carpels) are composed almost entirely of somatic cells, a small subset of which switch to meiosis, however, the mechanism of meiotic cell fate acquisition is a long-standing botanical mystery. In the maize (Zea mays) anther microsporangium the somatic tissues consist of four concentric cell layers which surround and support reproductive cells as they progress through meiosis and pollen maturation. Male sterility, defined as the absence of viable pollen, is a common phenotype in flowering plants, and many male sterile mutants have defects in somatic and reproductive cell fate acquisition. However, without a robust model of anther cell fate acquisition based on careful observation of wild type anther ontogeny, interpretation of cell fate mutants is limited. To address this, the pattern of cell proliferation, expansion, and differentiation was tracked in three dimensions over thirty days of wild type (W23) anther development, using anthers stained with propidium iodide (PI) and/or 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU) (S-phase label) and imaged by confocal microscopy. The pervading lineage model of anther development claims that new cell layers are generated by coordinated, oriented cell divisions in transient precursor cell types. In reconstructing anther cell division patterns, however, we can only confirm this for the origin of the middle layer (ml) and tapetum, while young anther development appears more complex. We find that each anther cell type undergoes a burst of cell division after specification with a characteristic pattern of both cell expansion and division. Comparisons between two inbreds lines and between ab- and adaxial anther florets indicated near identity: anther development is highly canalized and synchronized. Three classical models of plant organ development are tested and ruled out; however, local clustering of developmental events was identified for several processes, including the first evidence for a direct relationship between the development of ml and tapetal cells. We speculate that small groups of ml and tapetum cells function as a developmental unit dedicated to the development of a single pollen grain.
The regulation of pollen development and pollen tube growth is a complicated biological process that is crucial for sexual reproduction in flowering plants. Annexins are widely distributed from protists to higher eukaryotes and play multiple roles in numerous cellular events by acting as a putative “linker” between Ca2+ signaling, the actin cytoskeleton and the membrane, which are required for pollen development and pollen tube growth. Our recent report suggested that downregulation of the function of Arabidopsis annexin 5 (Ann5) in transgenic Ann5-RNAi lines caused severely sterile pollen grains. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of the function of Ann5 in pollen. This study demonstrated that Ann5 associates with phospholipid membrane and this association is stimulated by Ca2+ in vitro. Brefeldin A (BFA) interferes with endomembrane trafficking and inhibits pollen germination and pollen tube growth. Both pollen germination and pollen tube growth of Ann5-overexpressing plants showed increased resistance to BFA treatment, and this effect was regulated by calcium. Overexpression of Ann5 promoted Ca2+-dependent cytoplasmic streaming in pollen tubes in vivo in response to BFA. Lactrunculin (LatB) significantly prohibited pollen germination and tube growth by binding with high affinity to monomeric actin and preferentially targeting dynamic actin filament arrays and preventing actin polymerization. Overexpression of Ann5 did not affect pollen germination or pollen tube growth in response to LatB compared with wild-type, although Ann5 interacts with actin filaments in a manner similar to some animal annexins. In addition, the sterile pollen phenotype could be only partially rescued by Ann5 mutants at Ca2+-binding sites when compared to the complete recovery by wild-type Ann5. These data demonstrated that Ann5 is involved in pollen development, germination and pollen tube growth through the promotion of endomembrane trafficking modulated by calcium. Our results provide reliable molecular mechanisms that underlie the function of Ann5 in pollen.
Pollen tube reception involves a pollen tube-synergid interaction that controls the discharge of sperm cells into the embryo sac during plant fertilization. Despite its importance in the sexual reproduction of plants, little is known about the role of gene regulation in this process. We report here that the pollen-expressed transcription factors MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 probably control genes whose encoded proteins play important roles in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen tube reception. They share a high amino acid sequence identity and are expressed mainly in mature pollen grains and pollen tubes. None of the single or double mutants of these three genes exhibited any visible defective phenotype. Although the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutant was not defective in pollen development, pollen germination, pollen tube growth or tube guidance, the pollen tubes of the triple mutants exhibited uncontrolled growth and failed to discharge their sperm cells after entering the embryo sac. In addition, the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation significantly affected the expression of a group of pollen-expressed genes in mature pollen grains. All these results indicate that MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 participate in pollen tube reception, possibly by controlling the expression of downstream genes.
Pollen tube reception is an important step of fertilization and is controlled by interactions between the pollen tube and synergid. Components of both the pollen tube and synergid are believed to be involved in the process. Several proteins associated with this process have been identified in synergid cells. However, very little is known about the components contributed by the pollen tube. This work identified a group of Arabidopsis pollen-expressed MYB transcription factors, among which at least three members are involved in pollen tube reception. The myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation caused overgrowth of the pollen tube into the embryo sac and disrupted sperm cell discharge, leading to failed fertilization. This study provides novel evidence demonstrating that male factors are involved in pollen tube reception.
The male gametophyte developmental programme can be divided into five phases which differ in relation to the environment and pollen hydration state: (1) pollen develops inside the anther immersed in locular fluid, which conveys substances from the mother plant – the microsporogenesis phase; (2) locular fluid disappears by reabsorption and/or evaporation before the anther opens and the maturing pollen grains undergo dehydration – the dehydration phase; (3) the anther opens and pollen may be dispersed immediately, or be held by, for example, pollenkitt (as occurs in almost all entomophilous species) for later dispersion – the presentation phase; (4) pollen is dispersed by different agents, remaining exposed to the environment for different periods – the dispersal phase; and (5) pollen lands on a stigma and, in the case of a compatible stigma and suitable conditions, undergoes rehydration and starts germination – the pollen–stigma interaction phase.
This review highlights the issue of pollen water status and indicates the various mechanisms used by pollen grains during their five developmental phases to adjust to changes in water content and maintain internal stability.
Pollen water status is co-ordinated through structural, physiological and molecular mechanisms. The structural components participating in regulation of the pollen water level, during both dehydration and rehydration, include the exine (the outer wall of the pollen grain) and the vacuole. Recent data suggest the involvement of water channels in pollen water transport and the existence of several molecular mechanisms for pollen osmoregulation and to protect cellular components (proteins and membranes) under water stress. It is suggested that pollen grains will use these mechanisms, which have a developmental role, to cope with environmental stress conditions.
Pollen; water status; dehydration; rehydration; angiosperm pollen; pollination
Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) is a critical enzyme catalyzing the β-carboxylation of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to oxaloacetate, a tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate. PEPC typically exists as a Class-1 PEPC homotetramer composed of plant-type PEPC (PTPC) polypeptides, and two of the subunits were reported to be monoubiquitinated in germinating castor oil seeds. By the large-scale purification of ubiquitin (Ub)-related proteins from lily anther, two types of PEPCs, bacterial-type PEPC (BTPC) and plant-type PEPC (PTPC), were identified in our study as candidate Ub-related proteins. Until now, there has been no information about the properties of the PEPCs expressed in male reproductive tissues of higher plants.
Expression analyses showed that lily BTPC (LlBTPC) and Arabidopsis BTPC (AtBTPC) were significantly expressed in pollen. The fusion protein AtBTPC-Venus localized in the cytoplasm of the vegetative cell (VC). Both LlBTPC and AtBTPC expression initiated after the last mitosis before pollen germination. Lily PTPC (LlPTPC) and monoubiquitinated LlPTPC (Ub-LlPTPC) remained at constant levels during pollen development. In late bicellular pollen of lily, LlBTPC forms a hetero-octameric Class-2 PEPC complex with LlPTPC to express PEPC activity.
Our results suggest that an LlBTPC:Ub-LlPTPC:LlPTPC complex is formed in the VC cytoplasm during late pollen development. Both LlBTPC and AtBTPC expression patterns are similar to the patterns of the appearance of storage organelles during pollen development in lily and Arabidopsis, respectively. Therefore, BTPC is thought to accelerate the metabolic flow for the synthesis of storage substances during pollen maturation. Our study provides the first characterization of BTPC in pollen, the male gametophyte of higher plants.
The olive tree is an oil-storing species, with pollen being the second most active site in storage lipid biosynthesis. Caleosins are proteins involved in storage lipid mobilization during seed germination. Despite the existence of different lipidic structures in the anther, there are no data regarding the presence of caleosins in this organ to date. The purpose of the present work was to characterize a caleosin expressed in the olive anther over different key stages of pollen ontogeny, as a first approach to unravel its biological function in reproduction.
A 30 kDa caleosin was identified in the anther tissues by Western blot analysis. Using fluorescence and transmission electron microscopic immunolocalization methods, the protein was first localized in the tapetal cells at the free microspore stage. Caleosins were released to the anther locule and further deposited onto the sculptures of the pollen exine. As anthers developed, tapetal cells showed the presence of structures constituted by caleosin-containing lipid droplets closely packed and enclosed by ER-derived cisternae and vesicles. After tapetal cells lost their integrity, the caleosin-containing remnants of the tapetum filled the cavities of the mature pollen exine, forming the pollen coat. In developing microspores, this caleosin was initially detected on the exine sculptures. During pollen maturation, caleosin levels progressively increased in the vegetative cell, concurrently with the number of oil bodies. The olive pollen caleosin was able to bind calcium in vitro. Moreover, PEGylation experiments supported the structural conformation model suggested for caleosins from seed oil bodies.
In the olive anther, a caleosin is expressed in both the tapetal and germ line cells, with its synthesis independently regulated. The pollen oil body-associated caleosin is synthesized by the vegetative cell, whereas the protein located on the pollen exine and its coating has a sporophytic origin. The biological significance of the caleosin in the reproductive process in species possessing lipid-storing pollen might depend on its subcellular emplacement. The pollen inner caleosin may be involved in OB biogenesis during pollen maturation. The protein located on the outside might rather play a function in pollen-stigma interaction during pollen hydration and germination.
The distribution of poly(A)-containing RNA [poly(A)+RNA] in pollen grains of Hyoscyamus niger during normal gametophytic development and embryogenic development induced by culture of anther segments was followed by in situ hybridization with [3H]-polyuridylic acid as a probe. No binding of the isotope occurred in pollen grains during the uninucleate phase of their development. Although [3H]polyuridylic acid binding sites were present in the generative and vegetative cells of maturing pollen grains, they almost completely disappeared from mature grains ready to germinate. During pollen germination, poly(A)+RNA formation was transient and was due to the activity of the generative nucleus, whereas the vegetative nucleus and the sperm cells failed to interact with the applied probe. In cultured anther segments, moderate amounts of poly(A)+RNA were detected in the uninucleate, nonvacuolate, embryogenically determined pollen grains. Poly(A)+RNA accumulation in these grains was sensitive to actinomycin D, suggesting that it represents newly transcribed mRNA. After the first haploid mitosis in the embryogenically determined pollen grains, only those grains in which the generative nucleus alone or along with the vegetative nucleus accumulated poly(A)+RNA in the surrounding cytoplasm were found to divide in the embryogenic pathway. Overall, the results suggest that, in contrast to normal gametophytic development, embryogenic development in the uninucleate pollen grains of cultured anther segments of H. niger is due to the transcriptional activation of an informational type of RNA. Subsequent divisions in the potentially embryogenic binucleate pollen grains appeared to be mediated by the continued synthesis of mRNA either in the generative nucleus or in both the generative and vegetative nuclei.
Pollen grains are the male gametophytes that deliver sperm cells to female gametophytes during sexual reproduction of higher plants. Pollen is a major source of aeroallergens and environmental antigens. The pollen coat harbors a plethora of lipids that are required for pollen hydration, germination, and penetration of the stigma by pollen tubes. In addition to proteins, pollen displays a wide array of lipids that interact with the human immune system. Prior searches for pollen allergens have focused on the identification of intracellular allergenic proteins, but have largely overlooked much of the extracellular pollen matrix, a region where the majority of lipid molecules reside. Lipid antigens have attracted attention for their potent immunoregulatory effects. By being in close proximity to allergenic proteins on the pollen surface when they interact with host cells, lipids could modify the antigenic properties of proteins.
We performed a comparative pollen lipid profiling of 22 commonly allergenic plant species by the use of gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy, followed by detailed data mining and statistical analysis. Three experiments compared pollen lipid profiles. We built a database library of the pollen lipids by matching acquired pollen-lipid mass spectra and retention times with the NIST/EPA/NIH mass-spectral library. We detected, identified, and relatively quantified more than 106 lipid molecular species including fatty acids, n-alkanes, fatty alcohols, and sterols. Pollen-derived lipids stimulation up-regulate cytokines expression of dendritic and natural killer T cells co-culture.
Here we report on a lipidomic analysis of pollen lipids that can serve as a database for identifying potential lipid antigens and/or novel candidate molecules involved in allergy. The database provides a resource that facilitates studies on the role of lipids in the immunopathogenesis of allergy. Pollen lipids vary greatly among allergenic species and contain many molecules that have stimulatory or regulatory effects on immune responses.
Mutations in several subunits of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3 (eIF3) cause male transmission defects in Arabidopsis thaliana. To identify the stage of pollen development at which eIF3 becomes essential it is desirable to examine viable pollen and distinguish mutant from wild type. To accomplish this we have developed a broadly applicable method to track mutant alleles that are not already tagged by a visible marker gene through the male lineage of Arabidopsis.
Fluorescence tagged lines (FTLs) harbor a transgenic fluorescent protein gene (XFP) expressed by the pollen-specific LAT52 promoter at a defined chromosomal position. In the existing collection of FTLs there are enough XFP marker genes to track nearly every nuclear gene by virtue of its genetic linkage to a transgenic marker gene. Using FTLs in a quartet mutant, which yields mature pollen tetrads, we determined that the pollen transmission defect of the eif3h-1 allele is due to a combination of reduced pollen germination and reduced pollen tube elongation. We also detected reduced pollen germination for eif3e. However, neither eif3h nor eif3e, unlike other known gametophytic mutations, measurably disrupted the early stages of pollen maturation.
eIF3h and eIF3e both become essential during pollen germination, a stage of vigorous translation of newly transcribed mRNAs. These data delimit the end of the developmental window during which paternal rescue is still possible. Moreover, the FTL collection of mapped fluorescent protein transgenes represents an attractive resource for elucidating the pollen development phenotypes of any fine-mapped mutation in Arabidopsis.
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.
Eukaryotic aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs, EC 1.2.1), which oxidize aldehydes into carboxylic acids, have been classified into more than 20 families. In mammals, Family 2 ALDHs detoxify acetaldehyde. It has been hypothesized that plant Family 2 ALDHs oxidize acetaldehyde generated via ethanolic fermentation, producing acetate for acetyl-CoA biosynthesis via acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACS), similar to the yeast pathway termed the "pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) bypass". Evidence for this pathway in plants has been obtained from pollen.
To test for the presence of the PDH bypass in the sporophytic tissue of plants, Arabidopsis plants homozygous for mutant alleles of all three Family 2 ALDH genes were fed with 14C-ethanol along with wild type controls. Comparisons of the incorporation rates of 14C-ethanol into fatty acids in mutants and wild type controls provided direct evidence for the presence of the PDH bypass in sporophytic tissue. Among the three Family 2 ALDHs, one of the two mitochondrial ALDHs (ALDH2B4) appears to be the primary contributor to this pathway. Surprisingly, single, double and triple ALDH mutants of Arabidopsis did not exhibit detectable phenotypes, even though a Family 2 ALDH gene is required for normal anther development in maize.
The PDH bypass is active in sporophytic tissue of plants. Blocking this pathway via triple ALDH mutants does not uncover obvious visible phenotypes.
RNA biogenesis, including biosynthesis and maturation of rRNA, tRNA and mRNA, is a fundamental process that is critical for cell growth, division and differentiation. Previous studies showed that mutations in components involved in RNA biogenesis resulted in abnormalities in gametophyte and leaf development in Arabidopsis. In eukaryotes, RNases P/MRP (RNase mitochondrial RNA processing) are important ribonucleases that are responsible for processing of tRNA, and transcription of small non-coding RNAs. Here we report that Gametophyte Defective 1 (GAF1), a gene encoding a predicted protein subunit of RNases P/MRP, AtRPP30, plays a role in female gametophyte development and male competence. Embryo sacs were arrested at stages ranging from FG1 to FG7 in gaf1 mutant, suggesting that the progression of the gametophytic division during female gametogenesis was impaired in gaf1 mutant. In contrast, pollen development was not affected in gaf1. However, the fitness of the mutant pollen tube was weaker than that of the wild-type, leading to reduced transmission through the male gametes. GAF1 is featured as a typical RPP30 domain protein and interacts physically with AtPOP5, a homologue of RNases P/MRP subunit POP5 of yeast. Together, our data suggest that components of the RNases P/MRP family, such as RPP30, play important roles in gametophyte development and function in plants.
For self-pollinating plants to reproduce, male and female organ development must be coordinated as flowers mature. The Arabidopsis transcription factors AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 6 (ARF6) and ARF8 regulate this complex process by promoting petal expansion, stamen filament elongation, anther dehiscence, and gynoecium maturation, thereby ensuring that pollen released from the anthers is deposited on the stigma of a receptive gynoecium. ARF6 and ARF8 induce jasmonate production, which in turn triggers expression of MYB21 and MYB24, encoding R2R3 MYB transcription factors that promote petal and stamen growth. To understand the dynamics of this flower maturation regulatory network, we have characterized morphological, chemical, and global gene expression phenotypes of arf, myb, and jasmonate pathway mutant flowers. We found that MYB21 and MYB24 promoted not only petal and stamen development but also gynoecium growth. As well as regulating reproductive competence, both the ARF and MYB factors promoted nectary development or function and volatile sesquiterpene production, which may attract insect pollinators and/or repel pathogens. Mutants lacking jasmonate synthesis or response had decreased MYB21 expression and stamen and petal growth at the stage when flowers normally open, but had increased MYB21 expression in petals of older flowers, resulting in renewed and persistent petal expansion at later stages. Both auxin response and jasmonate synthesis promoted positive feedbacks that may ensure rapid petal and stamen growth as flowers open. MYB21 also fed back negatively on expression of jasmonate biosynthesis pathway genes to decrease flower jasmonate level, which correlated with termination of growth after flowers have opened. These dynamic feedbacks may promote timely, coordinated, and transient growth of flower organs.
Perfect flowers have both male organs that produce and release pollen and female organs that make and harbor seeds. Flowers also often attract pollinators using visual or chemical signals. So that male, female, and pollinator attraction functions occur at the right time, flower organs must grow and mature in a coordinated fashion. In the model self-pollinating plant Arabidopsis, a transcriptional network regulates genes that ensure coordinated growth of different flower organs, as well as pollen release and gynoecium (female) competence to support pollination. This network also regulates nectary development and production of volatile chemicals that may attract or repel insects. We have studied growth, chemical signal levels, and gene expression in mutants affected in components of this network, in order to determine how flower growth is controlled. Several plant hormones act in a cascade that promotes flower maturation. Moreover, regulatory feedback loops affect the timing and extent of developmental steps. Positive feedbacks may ensure that the development of different flower organs is coordinated and rapid, whereas negative feedbacks may allow growth to cease once flowers have opened. Our results provide a framework to understand how flower opening and reproduction are coordinated in Arabidopsis and other flowering plants.
In plants, pollination is a critical step in reproduction. During pollination, constant communication between male pollen and the female stigma is required for pollen adhesion, germination, and tube growth. The detailed mechanisms of stigma-mediated reproductive processes, however, remain largely unknown. Maize (Zea mays L.), one of the world’s most important crops, has been extensively used as a model species to study molecular mechanisms of pollen and stigma interaction. A comprehensive analysis of maize silk transcriptome may provide valuable information for investigating stigma functionality. A comparative analysis of expression profiles between maize silk and dry stigmas of other species might reveal conserved and diverse mechanisms that underlie stigma-mediated reproductive processes in various plant species.
Transcript abundance profiles of mature silk, mature pollen, mature ovary, and seedling were investigated using RNA-seq. By comparing the transcriptomes of these tissues, we identified 1,427 genes specifically or preferentially expressed in maize silk. Bioinformatic analyses of these genes revealed many genes with known functions in plant reproduction as well as novel candidate genes that encode amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. In addition, comparison of gene sets specifically or preferentially expressed in stigmas of maize, rice (Oryza sativa L.), and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana [L.] Heynh.) identified a number of homologous genes involved either in pollen adhesion, hydration, and germination or in initial growth and penetration of pollen tubes into the stigma surface. The comparison also indicated that maize shares a more similar profile and larger number of conserved genes with rice than with Arabidopsis, and that amino acid and lipid transport-related genes are distinctively overrepresented in maize.
Many of the novel genes uncovered in this study are potentially involved in stigma-mediated reproductive processes, including genes encoding amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. The data also suggest that dry stigmas share similar mechanisms at early stages of pollen-stigma interaction. Compared with Arabidopsis, maize and rice appear to have more conserved functional mechanisms. Genes involved in amino acid and lipid transport may be responsible for mechanisms in the reproductive process that are unique to maize silk.
Brassinosteroids (BRs) are steroid-like hormones essential for plant growth and development. The most active forms of brassinosteroids are Brassinolide (BL) and Castasterone (CS), which are catalyzed by members of the CYP85A family of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. In Arabidopsis thaliana there are two CYP85A gene members: CYP85A1 and CYP85A2. Unlike CYP85A1, CYP85A2 mediates the conversion of CS to BL. In contrast to mutations in CYP85A2 that result in severe dwarfism, cyp85a1 mutants do not show any obvious morphological phenotype during vegetative or floral development. By analyzing large-scale transcriptional activity in the ovule of Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), we determined that CYP85A1 is abundantly expressed in wild-type, but not in sporocyteless (spl) ovules lacking a female gametophyte. Insertional T-DNA lines defective in the activity of CYP85A1 exhibit a semi-sterile phenotype, suggesting a role for the corresponding enzyme acting at the gametophytic level. The CYP85A1 mRNA is localized in the female gametophyte and its neighboring sporophytic cells; however, translational fusions of the CYP85A1 promoter to uidA (GUS) showed GUS expression restricted to the female gametophyte, suggesting that within the ovule the corresponding protein is mostly active in gametophytic cells. A cytological analysis of heterozygous cyp85a1/+ individuals showed that close to 50% of female gametophytes are arrested before the first nuclear mitotic division of the haploid functional megaspore. Our results indicate that BR biosynthesis is required for the initiation of megagametogenesis in Arabidopsis.
CYP85A1; brassinosteroids; megagametogenesis; Arabidopsis; ovule; female gametophyte
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.
In contrast to animals and lower plants such as mosses and ferns, sperm cells of flowering plants (angiosperms) are immobile and require transportation to the female gametes via the vegetative pollen tube cell to achieve double fertilization. The path of the pollen tube towards the female gametophyte (embryo sac) has been intensively studied in many intra- and interspecific crossing experiments with the aim of increasing the gene pool of crop plants for greater yield, improved biotic and abiotic stress resistance, and for introducing new agronomic traits. Many attempts to hybridize different species or genotypes failed due to the difficulty for the pollen tubes in reaching the female gametophyte. Detailed studies showed that these processes are controlled by various self-incompatible (intraspecific) and cross-incompatible (interspecific) hybridization mechanisms.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms of crossing barriers is therefore of great interest in plant reproduction, evolution and breeding research. In particular, pre-zygotic hybridization barriers related to pollen tube germination, growth, guidance and sperm delivery, which are considered the major hybridization controls in nature and thus also contribute to species isolation and speciation, have been intensively investigated. Despite this general interest, surprisingly little is known about these processes in the most important agronomic plant family, the Gramineae, Poaceae or grasses. Small polymorphic proteins and their receptors, degradation of sterility locus proteins and general compounds such as calcium, γ-aminobutyric acid or nitric oxide have been shown to be involved in progamic pollen germination, adhesion, tube growth and guidance, as well as sperm release. Most advances have been made in the Brassicaceae, Papaveraceae, Linderniaceae and Solanaceae families including their well-understood self-incompatibility (SI) systems. Grass species evolved similar mechanisms to control the penetration and growth of self-pollen to promote intraspecific outcrossing and to prevent fertilization by alien sperm cells. However, in the Poaceae, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still largely unknown.
We propose to develop maize (Zea mays) as a model to investigate the above-described processes to understand the associated intra- and interspecific crossing barriers in grasses. Many genetic, cellular and biotechnological tools including the completion of a reference genome (inbred line B73) have been established in the last decade and many more maize inbred genomes are expected to be available soon. Moreover, a cellular marker line database as well as large transposon insertion collections and improved Agrobacterium transformation protocols are now available. Additionally, the processes described above are well studied at the morphological level and a number of mutants have been described already, awaiting disclosure of the relevant genes. The identification of the first key players in pollen tube growth, guidance and burst show maize to be an excellent grass model to investigate these processes in more detail. Here we provide an overview of our current understanding of these processes in Poaceae with a focus on maize, and also include relevant discoveries in eudicot model species.
Maize; male germline; sperm cell; interspecific crosses; self- and cross-incompatibility; pollen tube growth and guidance; fertilization; reproductive isolation
High levels of cytokinins (CKs) induce programmed cell death (PCD) both in animals and plant cells. High levels of the CK benzylaminopurine (BA) induce PCD in cultured cells of Arabidopsis thaliana by accelerating a senescence process characterized by DNA laddering and expression of a specific senescence marker. In this report, the question has been addressed whether members of the small family of Arabidopsis CK receptors (AHK2, AHK3, CRE1/AHK4) are required for BA-induced PCD. In this respect, suspension cell cultures were produced from selected receptor mutants. Cell growth and proliferation of all receptor mutant and wild-type cell cultures were similar, showing that the CK receptors are not required for these processes in cultured cells. The analysis of CK metabolites instead revealed differences between wild-type and receptor mutant lines, and indicated that all three receptors are redundantly involved in the regulation of the steady-state levels of isopentenyladenine- and trans-zeatin-type CKs. By contrast, the levels of cis-zeatin-type CKs were controlled mainly by AHK2 and AHK3. To study the role of CK receptors in the BA-induced PCD pathway, cultured cells were analysed for their behaviour in the presence of high levels of BA. The results show that CRE1/AHK4, the strongest expressed CK receptor gene of this family in cultured cells, is required for PCD, thus linking this process to the known CK signalling pathway.
Arabidopsis cultured cells; cytokinin; histidine kinase cytokinin receptors; programmed cell death