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1.  Proline accumulation in plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(11):1016-1018.
In addition to its role in protein synthesis and the plant cells' response to environmental stresses, circumstantial evidence suggest that proline may also play a role in flowering and development both as a metabolite and as a signal molecule. Although there is a growing consensus that proline is of special importance throughout the reproductive phase (from flower transition to seed development) a general agreement on the molecular and genetic mechanisms proline is involved in, is yet to be established. In this paper we shall review and critically discuss most of the evidence supporting a role for proline in plant development, paying special attention to the recently reported role of proline in flower transition.
PMCID: PMC2819507  PMID: 20009553
proline; flower transition; embryo development; P5CS1; P5CS2
2.  Thiol-based redox regulation in sexual plant reproduction: new insights and perspectives 
The success of sexual reproduction in plants involves (i) the proper formation of the plant gametophytes (pollen and embryo sac) containing the gametes, (ii) the accomplishment of specific interactions between pollen grains and the stigma, which subsequently lead to (iii) the fusion of the gametes and eventually to (iv) the seed setting. Owing to the lack of mobility, plants have developed specific regulatory mechanisms to control all developmental events underlying the sexual plant reproduction according to environmental challenges. Over the last decade, redox regulation and signaling have come into sight as crucial mechanisms able to manage critical stages during sexual plant reproduction. This regulation involves a complex redox network which includes reactive oxygen species (ROS), reactive nitrogen species (RNS), glutathione and other classic buffer molecules or antioxidant proteins, and some thiol/disulphide-containing proteins belonging to the thioredoxin superfamily, like glutaredoxins (GRXs) or thioredoxins (TRXs). These proteins participate as critical elements not only in the switch between the mitotic to the meiotic cycle but also at further developmental stages of microsporogenesis. They are also implicated in the regulation of pollen rejection as the result of self-incompatibility. In addition, they display precise space-temporal patterns of expression and are present in specific localizations like the stigmatic papillae or the mature pollen, although their functions and subcellular localizations are not clear yet. In this review we summarize insights and perspectives about the presence of thiol/disulphide-containing proteins in plant reproduction, taking into account the general context of the cell redox network.
PMCID: PMC3827552  PMID: 24294217
redox regulation; sexual plant reproduction; thioredoxin; glutaredoxin; pollen; pistil; pollen-pistil interaction; stigma
3.  Moderate Increase of Mean Daily Temperature Adversely Affects Fruit Set of Lycopersicon esculentum by Disrupting Specific Physiological Processes in Male Reproductive Development 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(5):731-738.
• Background and Aims Global warming is gaining significance as a threat to natural and managed ecosystems since temperature is one of the major environmental factors affecting plant productivity. Hence, the effects of moderate temperature increase on the growth and development of the tomato plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) were investigated.
• Methods Plants were grown at 32/26 °C as a moderately elevated temperature stress (METS) treatment or at 28/22 °C (day/night temperatures) as a control with natural light conditions. Vegetative growth and reproductive development as well as sugar content and metabolism, proline content and translocation in the androecium were investigated.
• Key Results METS did not cause a significant change in biomass, the number of flowers, or the number of pollen grains produced, but there was a significant decrease in the number of fruit set, pollen viability and the number of pollen grains released. Glucose and fructose contents in the androecium (i.e. all stamens from one flower) were generally higher in the control than METS, but sucrose was higher in METS. Coincidently, the mRNA transcript abundance of acid invertase in the androecium was decreased by METS. Proline contents in the androecium were almost the same in the control and METS, while the mRNA transcript level of proline transporter 1, which expresses specifically at the surface of microspores, was significantly decreased by METS.
• Conclusions The research indicated that failure of tomato fruit set under a moderately increased temperature above optimal is due to the disruption of sugar metabolism and proline translocation during the narrow window of male reproductive development.
PMCID: PMC2803419  PMID: 16497700
Lycopersicon esculentum; moderately elevated temperature stress; microsporogenesis; mean daily temperature; fruit set; pollen release; male reproductive development; tapetum; hexose; sucrose; acid invertase; proline transporter
4.  Temperature stress and plant sexual reproduction: uncovering the weakest links 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(7):1959-1968.
The reproductive (gametophytic) phase in flowering plants is often highly sensitive to hot or cold temperature stresses, with even a single hot day or cold night sometimes being fatal to reproductive success. This review describes studies of temperature stress on several crop plants, which suggest that pollen development and fertilization may often be the most sensitive reproductive stage. Transcriptome and proteomic studies on several plant species are beginning to identify stress response pathways that function during pollen development. An example is provided here of genotypic differences in the reproductive stress tolerance between two ecotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana Columbia (Col) and Hilversum (Hi-0), when reproducing under conditions of hot days and cold nights. Hi-0 exhibited a more severe reduction in seed set, correlated with a reduction in pollen tube growth potential and tropism defects. Hi-0 thus provides an Arabidopsis model to investigate strategies for improved stress tolerance in pollen. Understanding how different plants cope with stress during reproductive development offers the potential to identify genetic traits that could be manipulated to improve temperature tolerance in selected crop species being cultivated in marginal climates.
PMCID: PMC2917059  PMID: 20351019
Cold stress; fertilization; gene expression; heat stress; plant reproduction; pollen; pollen tropism; seed set
5.  The study of two barley Type I-like MADS-box genes as potential targets of epigenetic regulation during seed development 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:166.
MADS-box genes constitute a large family of transcription factors functioning as key regulators of many processes during plant vegetative and reproductive development. Type II MADS-box genes have been intensively investigated and are mostly involved in vegetative and flowering development. A growing number of studies of Type I MADS-box genes in Arabidopsis, have assigned crucial roles for these genes in gamete and seed development and have demonstrated that a number of Type I MADS-box genes are epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation and histone modifications. However, reports on agronomically important cereals such as barley and wheat are scarce.
Here we report the identification and characterization of two Type I-like MADS-box genes, from barley (Hordeum vulgare), a monocot cereal crop of high agronomic importance. Protein sequence and phylogenetic analysis showed that the putative proteins are related to Type I MADS-box proteins, and classified them in a distinct cereal clade. Significant differences in gene expression among seed developmental stages and between barley cultivars with varying seed size were revealed for both genes. One of these genes was shown to be induced by the seed development- and stress-related hormones ABA and JA whereas in situ hybridizations localized the other gene to specific endosperm sub-compartments. The genomic organization of the latter has high conservation with the cereal Type I-like MADS-box homologues and the chromosomal position of both genes is close to markers associated with seed quality traits. DNA methylation differences are present in the upstream and downstream regulatory regions of the barley Type I-like MADS-box genes in two different developmental stages and in response to ABA treatment which may be associated with gene expression differences.
Two barley MADS-box genes were studied that are related to Type I MADS-box genes. Differential expression in different seed developmental stages as well as in barley cultivars with different seed size was evidenced for both genes. The two barley Type I MADS-box genes were found to be induced by ABA and JA. DNA methylation differences in different seed developmental stages and after exogenous application of ABA is suggestive of epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The study of barley Type I-like MADS-box genes extends our investigations of gene regulation during endosperm and seed development in a monocot crop like barley.
PMCID: PMC3499179  PMID: 22985436
MADS-Box; Epigenetic regulation; Chromatin; DNA methylation; Histone methylation; Seed development; Endosperm; Retrotransposon; Barley
6.  Cytokinin receptors in sporophytes are essential for male and female functions in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(1):66-71.
Arabidopsis has three cytokinin receptors genes: CRE1, AHK2 and AHK3. Availability of plants that are homozygous mutant for these three genes indicates that cytokinin receptors in the haploid cells are dispensable for the development of male and female gametophytes. The triple mutants form a few flowers but never set seed, indicating that reproductive growth is impaired. We investigated which reproductive processes are affected in the triple mutants. Anthers of mutant plants contained fewer pollen grains and did not dehisce. Pollen in the anthers completed the formation of the one vegetative nucleus and the two sperm nuclei, as seen in wild type. The majority of the ovules were abnormal: 78% lacked the embryo sac, 10% carried a female gametophyte that terminated its development before completing three rounds of nuclear division, and about 12% completed three rounds of nuclear division but the gametophytes were smaller than those of the wild type. Reciprocal crosses between the wild type and the triple mutants indicated that pollen from mutant plants did not germinate on wild-type stigmas, and wild-type pollen did not germinate on mutant stigmas. These results suggest that cytokinin receptors in the sporophyte are indispensable for anther dehiscence, pollen maturation, induction of pollen germination by the stigma and female gametophyte formation and maturation.
PMCID: PMC3122008  PMID: 21301212
cytokinin; cytokinin receptor; female gametophyte; male gametophyte; stigma
7.  The relationship of proline content and metabolism on the productivity of maize plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(2):251-257.
The free proline content in maize ear-leaves, silk and pollen were analyzed in field grown plants which had matured to the pollination stage. Using maize hybrids PR34F02, PR35P12 and PR36B08 field trials were set up at two locations in eastern Croatia in two different years. Two enzymes of proline metabolism were analyzed in the same leaf samples and specific activities of synthetase (P5CS) and proline dehydrogenase (PDH). Plant productivity was evaluated at harvest by the estimation of total and fully developed grain number per ear and per plant, the mean single grain mass, and the mass of grain per plant. The year in which the plants were grown had a very significant effect on the free proline content in the leaf and pollen, as well as on the enzyme activities assayed. The differences between the plants from the two localities were very significant in all tested parameters of plant grain productivity. There was a significant genotype effect on proline content and P5CS total activity in leaf and on all the productivity parameters. Some of the correlations established suggest that the rate of proline synthesis and degradation in maize ear-leaf at pollination might contribute to the final grain production of the maize plant. Multiple regression analyses was used to further analyze the relationship between proline and grain productivity, but it is clear that future work should include other environmental conditions, plant species and organs such as roots.
PMCID: PMC3121986  PMID: 21415600
maize; maize silk; plant productivity; pollen; proline; proline dehydrogenase; Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase; Zea mays L.
8.  Substrate channeling in proline metabolism 
Proline metabolism is an important pathway that has relevance in several cellular functions such as redox balance, apoptosis, and cell survival. Results from different groups have indicated that substrate channeling of proline metabolic intermediates may be a critical mechanism. One intermediate is pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), which upon hydrolysis opens to glutamic semialdehyde (GSA). Recent structural and kinetic evidence indicate substrate channeling of P5C/GSA occurs in the proline catabolic pathway between the proline dehydrogenase and P5C dehydrogenase active sites of bifunctional proline utilization A (PutA). Substrate channeling in PutA is proposed to facilitate the hydrolysis of P5C to GSA which is unfavorable at physiological pH. The second intermediate, gamma-glutamyl phosphate, is part of the proline biosynthetic pathway and is extremely labile. Substrate channeling of gamma-glutamyl phosphate is thought to be necessary to protect it from bulk solvent. Because of the unfavorable equilibrium of P5C/GSA and the reactivity of gamma-glutamyl phosphate, substrate channeling likely improves the efficiency of proline metabolism. Here, we outline general strategies for testing substrate channeling and review the evidence for channeling in proline metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3342669  PMID: 22201749
Substrate Channeling; Proline Metabolism; Proline Dehydrogenase; PRODH; Pyrroline-5-carboxylate Dehydrogenase; P5CDH; Pyrroline-5-Carboxylate; P5C; Glutamic semialdehyde; GSA; Gamma-Glutamyl Kinase; Gamma-Glutamyl Phosphate Reductase; Pyrroline-5-Carboxylate Synthase; P5CS; Gamma-Glutamyl Phosphate; Review
9.  Mycorrhizal-Mediated Lower Proline Accumulation in Poncirus trifoliata under Water Deficit Derives from the Integration of Inhibition of Proline Synthesis with Increase of Proline Degradation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80568.
Proline accumulation was often correlated with drought tolerance of plants infected by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), whereas lower proline in some AM plants including citrus was also found under drought stress and the relevant mechanisms have not been fully elaborated. In this study proline accumulation and activity of key enzymes relative to proline biosynthesis (▵1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase, P5CS; ornithine-δ-aminotransferase, OAT) and degradation (proline dehydrogenase, ProDH) were determined in trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata, a widely used citrus rootstock) inoculated with or without Funneliformis mosseae and under well-watered (WW) or water deficit (WD). AMF colonization significantly increased plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, root volume, biomass production of both leaves and roots and leaf relative water content, irrespectively of water status. Water deficit induced more tissue proline accumulation, in company with an increase of P5CS activity, but a decrease of OAT and ProDH activity, no matter whether under AM or no-AM. Compared with no-AM treatment, AM treatment resulted in lower proline concentration and content in leaf, root, and total plant under both WW and WD. The AMF colonization significantly decreased the activity of both P5CS and OAT in leaf, root, and total plant under WW and WD, except for an insignificant difference of root OAT under WD. The AMF inoculation also generally increased tissue ProDH activity under WW and WD. Plant proline content significantly positively correlated with plant P5CS activity, negatively with plant ProDH activity, but not with plant OAT activity. These results suggest that AM plants may suffer less from WD, thereby inducing lower proline accumulation, which derives from the integration of an inhibition of proline synthesis with an enhancement of proline degradation.
PMCID: PMC3832396  PMID: 24260421
10.  Using maize as a model to study pollen tube growth and guidance, cross-incompatibility and sperm delivery in grasses 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(4):727-737.
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.
PMCID: PMC3170146  PMID: 21345919
Maize; male germline; sperm cell; interspecific crosses; self- and cross-incompatibility; pollen tube growth and guidance; fertilization; reproductive isolation
11.  Oxygen Reactivity of PutA from Helicobacter Species and Proline-Linked Oxidative Stress 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(4):1227-1235.
Proline is converted to glutamate in two successive steps by the proline utilization A (PutA) flavoenzyme in gram-negative bacteria. PutA contains a proline dehydrogenase domain that catalyzes the flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-dependent oxidation of proline to Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) and a P5C dehydrogenase domain that catalyzes the NAD+-dependent oxidation of P5C to glutamate. Here, we characterize PutA from Helicobacter hepaticus (PutAHh) and Helicobacter pylori (PutAHp) to provide new insights into proline metabolism in these gastrointestinal pathogens. Both PutAHh and PutAHp lack DNA binding activity, in contrast to PutA from Escherichia coli (PutAEc), which both regulates and catalyzes proline utilization. PutAHh and PutAHp display catalytic activities similar to that of PutAEc but have higher oxygen reactivity. PutAHh and PutAHp exhibit 100-fold-higher turnover numbers (∼30 min−1) than PutAEc (<0. 3 min−1) using oxygen as an electron acceptor during catalytic turnover with proline. Consistent with increased oxygen reactivity, PutAHh forms a reversible FAD-sulfite adduct. The significance of increased oxygen reactivity in PutAHh and PutAHp was probed by oxidative stress studies in E. coli. Expression of PutAEc and PutA from Bradyrhizobium japonicum, which exhibit low oxygen reactivity, does not diminish stress survival rates of E. coli cell cultures. In contrast, PutAHp and PutAHh expression dramatically reduces E. coli cell survival and is correlated with relatively lower proline levels and increased hydrogen peroxide formation. The discovery of reduced oxygen species formation by PutA suggests that proline catabolism may influence redox homeostasis in the ecological niches of these Helicobacter species.
PMCID: PMC1367249  PMID: 16452403
12.  Proline Excretion and Indirect Suppression in Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;118(3):928-934.
The last step in proline biosynthesis in Escherichia coli K-12, Salmonella typhimurium LT7, and a number of other enterobacterial isolates is regulated so that no proline is excreted, even if excess Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate, the immediate precursor of proline, is added to a culture. In proline auxotrophs blocked at an early step in proline biosynthesis (proA or proB), reversion to prototrophy is often due to a mutation in the arginine pathway which diverts N-acetyl glutamate γ-semialdehyde to proline synthesis, thus bypassing the proA or proB block. In such double mutants (proAB, argD), the last step in proline synthesis appears to be unregulated, since proline is excreted. Feedback inhibition and repression of the arginine pathway overcomes indirect suppression (restoring the Pro− phenotype), but proline regulation is not restored; double mutants still excrete proline when fed Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate exogeneously. A new class of proline analogue-resistant mutant, due to mutation at argD, is also described.
PMCID: PMC246841  PMID: 4598010
13.  Functional Specialization in Proline Biosynthesis of Melanoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45190.
Proline metabolism is linked to hyperprolinemia, schizophrenia, cutis laxa, and cancer. In the latter case, tumor cells tend to rely on proline biosynthesis rather than salvage. Proline is synthesized from either glutamate or ornithine; both are converted to pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), and then to proline via pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductases (PYCRs). Here, the role of three isozymic versions of PYCR was addressed in human melanoma cells by tracking the fate of 13C-labeled precursors. Based on these studies we conclude that PYCR1 and PYCR2, which are localized in the mitochondria, are primarily involved in conversion of glutamate to proline. PYCRL, localized in the cytosol, is exclusively linked to the conversion of ornithine to proline. This analysis provides the first clarification of the role of PYCRs to proline biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3443215  PMID: 23024808
14.  Type II hyperprolinemia. Delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase deficiency in cultured skin fibroblasts and circulating lymphocytes. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1976;58(3):598-603.
Type II hyperprolinemia is an inherited abnormality in amino acid metabolism characterized by elevated plasma proline concentrations, iminoglycinuria, and the urinary excretion of delta1-pyrroline compounds. To define the enzymologic defect of this biochemical disorder, we developed a specific, sensitive radioisotopic assay for the proline degradative enzyme delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase. Using this assay, we have shown an absence of delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase activity in the cultured fibroblasts from three patients with type II hyperprolinemia. We confirmed this result on cultured cells by demonstrating a similar absence of delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase activity in extracts prepared from the peripheral leukocytes of these patients. Additionally, we found significantly decreased levels of delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase activity in the leukocyte extracts from five obligate heterozygotes for type II hyperprolinemia. We also demonstrated a reduction in leukocyte delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase activity in three successive generations of a family. These results prove that an absence of delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylic acid dehydrogenase is the enzymologic defect in type II hyperprolinemia and that this defect is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion.
PMCID: PMC333218  PMID: 956388
15.  How does timing, duration and severity of heat stress influence pollen-pistil interactions in angiosperms? 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(7):930-933.
Reproductive development in sexual plants is substantially more sensitive to high temperature stress than vegetative development, resulting in negative implications for food and fiber production under the moderate temperature increases projected to result from global climate change. High temperature exposure either during early pollen development or during the progamic phase of pollen development will negatively impact pollen performance and reproductive output; both phases of pollen development are considered exceptionally sensitive to moderate heat stress. However, moderately elevated temperatures either before or during the progamic phase can limit fertilization by negatively impacting important pollen pistil interactions required for successful pollen tube growth toward the ovules. This mini-review identifies the impacts of heat stress on pollen-pistil interactions and sexual reproduction in angiosperms. A special emphasis is placed on the biochemical response of the pistil to moderately high temperature and the resultant influence on in vivo pollen performance and fertilization.
PMCID: PMC3257764  PMID: 21628998
pollen-pistil interaction; carbohydrates; heat stress; fertilization; pollen tube growth; climate change
16.  Proline: Mother Nature’s cryoprotectant applied to protein crystallography 
The amino acid l-proline is shown to be a good cryoprotectant for protein crystals. Four examples are provided; the range of proline used for cryoprotection is 2.0–3.0 M.
l-Proline is one of Mother Nature’s cryoprotectants. Plants and yeast accumulate proline under freeze-induced stress and the use of proline in the cryopreservation of biological samples is well established. Here, it is shown that l-proline is also a useful cryoprotectant for protein crystallography. Proline was used to prepare crystals of lysozyme, xylose isomerase, histidine acid phosphatase and 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase for low-temperature data collection. The crystallization solutions in these test cases included the commonly used precipitants ammonium sulfate, sodium chloride and polyethylene glycol and spanned the pH range 4.6–8.5. Thus, proline is compatible with typical protein-crystallization formulations. The proline concentration needed for cryoprotection of these crystals is in the range 2.0–3.0 M. Complete data sets were collected from the proline-protected crystals. Proline performed as well as traditional cryoprotectants based on the diffraction resolution and data-quality statistics. The structures were refined to assess the binding of proline to these proteins. As observed with traditional cryoprotectants such as glycerol and ethylene glycol, the electron-density maps clearly showed the presence of proline molecules bound to the protein. In two cases, histidine acid phosphatase and 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase, proline binds in the active site. It is concluded that l-proline is an effective cryoprotectant for protein crystallography.
PMCID: PMC3413213  PMID: 22868767
proline; cryoprotectants
17.  Loss of LORELEI function in the pistil delays initiation but does not affect embryo development in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(11):1487-1490.
Double fertilization, uniquely observed in plants, requires successful sperm cell delivery by the pollen tube to the female gametophyte, followed by migration, recognition and fusion of the two sperm cells with two female gametic cells. The female gametophyte not only regulates these steps but also controls the subsequent initiation of seed development. Previously, we reported that loss of LORELEI, which encodes a putative glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored protein, in the female reproductive tissues causes a delay in initiation of seed development. From these studies, however, it was unclear if embryos derived from fertilization of lre-5 gametophytes continued to lag behind wild-type during seed development. Additionally, it was not determined if the delay in initiation of seed development had any lingering effects during seed germination. Finally, it was not known if loss of LORELEI function affects seedling development given that LORELEI is expressed in eight-day-old seedlings. Here, we showed that despite a delay in initiation, lre-5/lre-5 embryos recover, becoming equivalent to the developing wild-type embryos beginning at 72 hours after pollination. Additionally, lre-5/lre-5 seed germination, and seedling and root development are indistinguishable from wild-type indicating that loss of LORELEI is tolerated, at least under standard growth conditions, in vegetative tissues.
PMCID: PMC3115263  PMID: 21051955
LORELEI; glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored protein; embryogenesis; DD45; seed germination; primary and lateral root growth; seedling development
18.  Genetic evidence for a common enzyme catalyzing the second step in the degradation of proline and hydroxyproline. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1979;64(5):1365-1370.
The initial step in the degradation pathways of proline and hydroxyproline is catalyzed by proline oxidase and hydroxyproline oxidase, yielding delta 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate and delta 1-pyrroline-3-hydroxy-5-carboxylate, respectively. The second step is the oxidation of delta 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate to glutamate and delta 1-pyrroline-3-hydroxy-5-carboxylate to gamma-hydroxy-glutamate. To determine if this second step in the degradation of proline and hydroxyproline is catalyzed by a common or by separate enzyme(s), we developed a radioisotopic assay for delta 1-pyrroline-3-hydroxy-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase activity. We then compared delta1-pyrroline-3-hydroxy-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase activity with that of delta 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase in fibroblasts and leukocytes from type II hyperprolinemia patients, heterozygotes, and controls. We found that cells from type II hyperprolinemia patients were deficient in both dehydrogenase activities. Furthermore, these activities were highly correlated over the range found in the normals, heterozygotes, and patients. We conclude from these data that a common delta 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase catalyzes the oxidation of both delta 1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate and delta 1-pyrroline-3-hydroxy-5-carboxylate, and that this activity is deficient in type II hyperprolinemia.
PMCID: PMC371284  PMID: 500817
19.  Similar Gender Dimorphism in the Costs of Reproduction across the Geographic Range of Fraxinus ornus 
Annals of Botany  2006;99(1):183-191.
Background and Aims
The reproductive costs for individuals with the female function have been hypothesized to be greater than for those with the male function because the allocation unit per female flower is very high due to the necessity to nurture the embryos until seed dispersal occurs, while the male reproductive allocation per flower is lower because it finishes once pollen is shed. Consequently, males may invest more resources in growth than females. This prediction was tested across a wide geographical range in a tree with a dimorphic breeding system (Fraxinus ornus) consisting of males and hermaphrodites functioning as females. The contrasting ecological conditions found across the geographical range allowed the evaluation of the hypothesis that the reproductive costs of sexual dimorphism varies with environmental stressors.
By using random-effects meta-analysis, the differences in the reproductive and vegetative investment of male and hermaphrodite trees of F. ornus were analysed in 10 populations from the northern (Slovakia), south-eastern (Greece) and south-western (Spain) limits of its European distribution. The variation in gender-dimorphism with environmental stress was analysed by running a meta-regression between these effect sizes and the two environmental stress indicators: one related to temperature (the frost-free period) and another related to water availability (moisture deficit).
Key Results
Most of the effect sizes showed that males produced more flowers and grew more quickly than hermaphrodites. Gender differences in reproduction and growth were not minimized or maximized under adverse climatic conditions such as short frost-free periods or severe aridity.
The lower costs of reproduction for F. ornus males allow them to grow more quickly than hermaphrodites, although such differences in sex-specific reproductive costs are not magnified under stressful conditions.
PMCID: PMC2802980  PMID: 17098751
Costs of reproduction; Fraxinus ornus; meta-analysis; sexual dimorphism
20.  The Arabidopsis NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 Genes Are Functionally Redundant and Are Required in Early Embryogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e82043.
Nuclear factor Y (NF-Y) is a trimeric transcription factor composed of three distinct subunits called NF-YA, NF-YB and NF-YC. In Arabidopsis thaliana, NF-Y subunits are known to play roles in many processes, such as gametogenesis, embryogenesis, seed development, drought resistance, ABA signaling, flowering time, primary root elongation, Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress response and blue light responses. Here, we report that the closely related NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 genes control early embryogenesis. Detailed GUS and in situ analyses showed that NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 are expressed in vegetative and reproductive tissues with the highest expression being during embryo development from the globular to the torpedo embryo stage. Plants from the nf-ya3 and nf-ya8 single mutants do not display any obvious phenotypic alteration, whereas nf-ya3 nf-ya8 double mutants are embryo lethal. Morphological analyses showed that the nf-ya3 nf-ya8 embryos fail to undergo to the heart stage and develop into abnormal globular embryos with both proembryo and suspensor characterized by a disordered cell cluster with an irregular shape, suggesting defects in embryo development. The suppression of both NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 gene expression by RNAi experiments resulted in defective embryos that phenocopied the nf-ya3 nf-ya8 double mutants, whereas complementation experiments partially rescued the abnormal globular nf-ya3 nf-ya8 embryos, confirming that NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 are required in early embryogenesis. Finally, the lack of GFP expression of the auxin responsive DR5rev::GFP marker line in double mutant embryos suggested that mutations in both NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 affect auxin response in early developing embryos. Our findings indicate that NF-YA3 and NF-YA8 are functionally redundant genes required in early embryogenesis of Arabidopsis thaliana.
PMCID: PMC3841131  PMID: 24303077
21.  Identification of novel and conserved miRNAs involved in pollen development in Brassica campestris ssp. chinensis by high-throughput sequencing and degradome analysis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:146.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, noncoding, small RNAs that have essential regulatory functions in plant growth, development, and stress response processes. However, limited information is available about their functions in sexual reproduction of flowering plants. Pollen development is an important process in the life cycle of a flowering plant and is a major factor that affects the yield and quality of crop seeds.
This study aims to identify miRNAs involved in pollen development. Two independent small RNA libraries were constructed from the flower buds of the male sterile line (Bcajh97-01A) and male fertile line (Bcajh97-01B) of Brassica campestris ssp. chinensis. The libraries were subjected to high-throughput sequencing by using the Illumina Solexa system. Eight novel miRNAs on the other arm of known pre-miRNAs, 54 new conserved miRNAs, and 8 novel miRNA members were identified. Twenty-five pairs of novel miRNA/miRNA* were found. Among all the identified miRNAs, 18 differentially expressed miRNAs with over two-fold change between flower buds of male sterile line (Bcajh97-01A) and male fertile line (Bcajh97-01B) were identified. qRT-PCR analysis revealed that most of the differentially expressed miRNAs were preferentially expressed in flower buds of the male fertile line (Bcajh97-01B). Degradome analysis showed that a total of 15 genes were predicted to be the targets of seven miRNAs.
Our findings provide an overview of potential miRNAs involved in pollen development and interactions between miRNAs and their corresponding targets, which may provide important clues on the function of miRNAs in pollen development.
PMCID: PMC3936892  PMID: 24559317
Brassica campestris; Brassica rapa; miRNAs; Pollen development; High-throughput sequencing; Deep sequencing; Degradome analysis
22.  An Arabidopsis flavonoid transporter is required for anther dehiscence and pollen development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;61(2):439-451.
FLOWER FLAVONOID TRANSPORTER (FFT) encodes a multidrug and toxin efflux family transporter in Arabidopsis thaliana. FFT (AtDTX35) is highly transcribed in floral tissues, the transcript being localized to epidermal guard cells, including those of the anthers, stigma, siliques and nectaries. Mutant analysis demonstrates that the absence of FFT transcript affects flavonoid levels in the plant and that the altered flavonoid metabolism has wide-ranging consequences. Root growth, seed development and germination, and pollen development, release and viability are all affected. Spectrometry of mutant versus wild-type flowers shows altered levels of a glycosylated flavonol whereas anthocyanin seems unlikely to be the substrate as previously speculated. Thus, as well as adding FFT to the incompletely described flavonoid transport network, it is found that correct reproductive development in Arabidopsis is perturbed when this particular transporter is missing.
PMCID: PMC2803208  PMID: 19995827
Anther; fertility; flavonoid; MATE transporter; nectary; pollen
23.  High temperature injury and auxin biosynthesis in microsporogenesis 
Plant reproductive development is more sensitive than vegetative growth to many environmental stresses. High temperature (HT) injury is becoming an increasingly serious problem due to recent global warming. In wheat, barley, and other crops, the early phase of anther development is most susceptible to HT. I and my colleagues recently demonstrated that HT causes cell proliferation arrest and represses auxin signaling in a tissue-specific manner in the anther cells of barley and Arabidopsis. HT also caused comprehensive alterations in transcription. The application of auxin at the same time blocked the transcriptional alterations, led to the production of normal pollen grains, and restored the normal seed setting rate under increasing temperatures. Although synthetic auxins have been used widely as potent and selective herbicides, these recent results indicate that auxin is useful for the promotion of fertility and maintenance of crop yields under the threat of global warming.
PMCID: PMC3593198  PMID: 23483842
anther development; Arabidopsis; auxin; barley; high temperature injury; male sterility; tapetal degeneration; YUCCA
24.  Distinct and Dynamic Auxin Activities During Reproductive Development 
Flowering plants have evolved sophisticated and complicated reproductive structures to ensure optimal conditions for the next generation. Successful reproduction relies on careful timing and coordination of tissue development, which requires constant communication between these tissues. Work on flower and fruit development over the last decade places the phytohormone auxin in a key role as a master of patterning and tissue specification of reproductive organs. Although many questions still remain, it is now clear that auxin mediates its function in flowers and fruits through an integrated process of biosynthesis, transport, and signaling, as well as interaction with other hormonal pathways. In addition, the knowledge obtained so far about auxin function already allows researchers to develop tools for crop improvement and precision agriculture.
The phytohormone auxin is master regulator of plant reproductive organs. It marks floral initiation sites and controls stamen, pollen, gynoecium, and fruit development.
PMCID: PMC2882118  PMID: 20457563
25.  Parental genetic distance and patterns in nonrandom mating and seed yield in predominately selfing Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant Reproduction  2013;26:317-328.
In this study, we ask two questions: (1) Is reproductive success independent of parental genetic distance in predominately selfing plants? (2) In the absence of early inbreeding depression, is there substantial maternal and/or paternal variation in reproductive success in natural populations? Seed yield in single pollinations and proportion of seeds sired in mixed pollinations were studied in genetically defined accessions of the predominately selfing plant Arabidopsis thaliana by conducting two diallel crosses. The first diallel was a standard, single pollination design that we used to examine variance in seed yield. The second diallel was a mixed pollination design that utilized a standard pollen competitor to examine variance in proportion of seeds sired. We found no correlation between reproductive success and parental genetic distance, and self-pollen does not systematically differ in reproductive success compared to outcross pollen, suggesting that Arabidopsis populations do not experience embryo lethality due to early-acting inbreeding or outbreeding depression. We used these data to partition the contributions to total phenotypic variation from six sources, including maternal contributions, paternal contributions and parental interactions. For seed yield in single pollinations, maternal effects accounted for the most significant source of variance (16.6 %). For proportion of seeds sired in mixed pollinations, the most significant source of variance was paternal effects (17.9 %). Thus, we show that population-level genetic similarities, including selfing, do not correlate with reproductive success, yet there is still significant paternal variance under competition. This suggests two things. First, since these differences are unlikely due to early-acting inbreeding depression or differential pollen viability, this implicates natural variation in pollen germination and tube growth dynamics. Second, this strongly supports a model of fixation of pollen performance genes in populations, offering a focus for future genetic studies in differential reproductive success.
PMCID: PMC3825607  PMID: 23843176
Mate choice; Nonrandom mating; Seed yield; Inbreeding; Diallel; Pollen competition

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