Hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins (HRGPs) are implicated to have a role in many aspects of plant growth and development but there is limited knowledge about their localization and function during somatic embryogenesis of higher plants. In this study, the localization and function of hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins in embryogenic cells (ECs) and somatic embryos of banana were investigated by using immunobloting and immunocytochemistry with monoclonal JIM11 and JIM20 antibodies as well as by treatment with 3,4-dehydro-L-proline (3,4-DHP, an inhibitor of extensin biosynthesis), and by immunomodulation with the JIM11 antibody.
Immunofluorescence labelling of JIM11 and JIM20 hydroxyproline rich glycoprotein epitopes was relatively weak in non-embryogenic cells (NECs), mainly on the edge of small cell aggregates. On the other hand, hydroxyproline rich glycoprotein epitopes were found to be enriched in early embryogenic cells as well as in various developmental stages of somatic embryos. Embryogenic cells (ECs), proembryos and globular embryos showed strong labelling of hydroxyproline rich glycoprotein epitopes, especially in their cell walls and outer surface layer, so-called extracellular matrix (ECM). This hydroxyproline rich glycoprotein signal at embryo surfaces decreased and/or fully disappeared during later developmental stages (e.g. pear-shaped and cotyledonary stages) of embryos. In these later developmental embryogenic stages, however, new prominent hydroxyproline rich glycoprotein labelling appeared in tri-cellular junctions among parenchymatic cells inside these embryos. Overall immunofluorescence labelling of late stage embryos with JIM20 antibody was weaker than that of JIM11. Western blot analysis supported the above immunolocalization data. The treatment with 3,4-DHP inhibited the development of embryogenic cells and decreased the rate of embryo germination. Embryo-like structures, which developed after 3,4-DHP treatment showed aberrant non-compact epidermis with discontinuous ECM at the outer surface as well as much less immunolabelling with the JIM11 antibody. This treatment also decreased the plant regeneration capacity in embryogenic banana cultures. Finally, immunomodulation of surface hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins by co-culture of embryos with the JIM11 antibody resulted in a much lower germination capacity of these embryos.
These results suggest that hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins play an important developmental role, especially in the process of regeneration and germination of embryos during plant regeneration via somatic embryogenesis. Proper content and localization of hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins seem to be essential for the formation and regeneration of banana somatic embryos.