Genome-wide expression profiling of the Arabidopsis female gametophyte identifies families of small, secreted proteins.
ABSTRACT: The female gametophyte of flowering plants, the embryo sac, develops within the diploid (sporophytic) tissue of the ovule. While embryo sac-expressed genes are known to be required at multiple stages of the fertilization process, the set of embryo sac-expressed genes has remained poorly defined. In particular, the set of genes responsible for mediating intracellular communication between the embryo sac and the male gametophyte, the pollen grain, is unknown. We used high-throughput cDNA sequencing and whole-genome tiling arrays to compare gene expression in wild-type ovules to that in dif1 ovules, which entirely lack embryo sacs, and myb98 ovules, which are impaired in pollen tube attraction. We identified nearly 400 genes that are downregulated in dif1 ovules. Seventy-eight percent of these embryo sac-dependent genes were predicted to encode for secreted proteins, and 60% belonged to multigenic families. Our results define a large number of candidate extracellular signaling molecules that may act during embryo sac development or fertilization; less than half of these are represented on the widely used ATH1 expression array. In particular, we found that 37 out of 40 genes encoding Domain of Unknown Function 784 (DUF784) domains require the synergid-specific transcription factor MYB98 for expression. Several DUF784 genes were transcribed in synergid cells of the embryo sac, implicating the DUF784 gene family in mediating late stages of embryo sac development or interactions with pollen tubes. The coexpression of highly similar proteins suggests a high degree of functional redundancy among embryo sac genes.
Project description:In alders, where fertilization occurs approximately 8 weeks after pollination, the pollen tube (male gametophyte) grows intermittently in four steps in close association with the development of the ovary and its ovules. Pollen tubes stop growing in the style, at the ovarian locule, and at the chalaza (ovule), before reaching an embryo sac for fertilization. At the stage when the ovary develops an ovule primordium in each of the two locules, many pollen tubes germinate on the stigma, and a few of them reach the style, where they remain for approximately 7 weeks. Thereafter, a single tube resumes growing; with a short stop in the upper space of the ovarian locule, it reaches the older of the two ovules when it has developed a two-nucleate embryo sac. Except in the last step, where the tube grows from the chalaza to an embryo sac (female gametophyte), an eight-nucleate mature embryo sac is not necessary for pollen-tube guidance in the pistil. Although the intermittent pollen-tube growth appears to play an important role in the selection of a single pollen tube from many and one ovule from two, its detection provides insight into the study of the mechanism of pollen-tube guidance.
Project description:In contrast to animals and lower plant species, sperm cells of flowering plants are non-motile and are transported to the female gametes via the pollen tube, i.e. the male gametophyte. Upon arrival at the female gametophyte two sperm cells are discharged into the receptive synergid cell to execute double fertilization. The first players involved in inter-gametophyte signaling to attract pollen tubes and to arrest their growth have been recently identified. In contrast the physiological mechanisms leading to pollen tube burst and thus sperm discharge remained elusive. Here, we describe the role of polymorphic defensin-like cysteine-rich proteins ZmES1-4 (Zea mays embryo sac) from maize, leading to pollen tube growth arrest, burst, and explosive sperm release. ZmES1-4 genes are exclusively expressed in the cells of the female gametophyte. ZmES4-GFP fusion proteins accumulate in vesicles at the secretory zone of mature synergid cells and are released during the fertilization process. Using RNAi knock-down and synthetic ZmES4 proteins, we found that ZmES4 induces pollen tube burst in a species-preferential manner. Pollen tube plasma membrane depolarization, which occurs immediately after ZmES4 application, as well as channel blocker experiments point to a role of K(+)-influx in the pollen tube rupture mechanism. Finally, we discovered the intrinsic rectifying K(+) channel KZM1 as a direct target of ZmES4. Following ZmES4 application, KZM1 opens at physiological membrane potentials and closes after wash-out. In conclusion, we suggest that vesicles containing ZmES4 are released from the synergid cells upon male-female gametophyte signaling. Subsequent interaction between ZmES4 and KZM1 results in channel opening and K(+) influx. We further suggest that K(+) influx leads to water uptake and culminates in osmotic tube burst. The species-preferential activity of polymorphic ZmES4 indicates that the mechanism described represents a pre-zygotic hybridization barrier and may be a component of reproductive isolation in plants.
Project description:Flowering plant genomes encode multiple cation/H+ exchangers (CHXs) whose functions are largely unknown. AtCHX17, AtCHX18, and AtCHX19 are membrane transporters that modulate K+ and pH homeostasis and are localized in the dynamic endomembrane system. Loss of function reduced seed set, but the particular phase(s) of reproduction affected was not determined. Pollen tube growth and ovule targeting of chx17chx18chx19 mutant pollen appeared normal, but reciprocal cross experiments indicate a largely male defect. Although triple mutant pollen tubes reach ovules of a wild-type pistil and a synergid cell degenerated, half of those ovules were unfertilized or showed fertilization of the egg or central cell, but not both female gametes. Fertility could be partially compromised by impaired pollen tube and/or sperm function as CHX19 and CHX18 are expressed in the pollen tube and sperm cell, respectively. When fertilization was successful in self-pollinated mutants, early embryo formation was retarded compared with embryos from wild-type ovules receiving mutant pollen. Thus CHX17 and CHX18 proteins may promote embryo development possibly through the endosperm where these genes are expressed. The reticulate pattern of the pollen wall was disorganized in triple mutants, indicating perturbation of wall formation during male gametophyte development. As pH and cation homeostasis mediated by AtCHX17 affect membrane trafficking and cargo delivery, these results suggest that male fertility, sperm function, and embryo development are dependent on proper cargo sorting and secretion that remodel cell walls, plasma membranes, and extracellular factors.
Project description:The fertilization-related kinase 1 (ScFRK1), a nuclear-localized mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK) from the wild potato species Solanum chacoense, belongs to a small group of pMEKKs that do not possess an extended N- or C-terminal regulatory domain. Initially selected based on its highly specific expression profile following fertilization, in situ expression analyses revealed that the ScFRK1 gene is also expressed early on during female gametophyte development in the integument and megaspore mother cell and, later, in the synergid and egg cells of the embryo sac. ScFRK1 mRNAs are also detected in pollen mother cells. Transgenic plants with lower or barely detectable levels of ScFRK1 mRNAs lead to the production of small fruits with severely reduced seed set, resulting from a concomitant decline in the number of normal embryo sacs produced. Megagametogenesis and microgametogenesis were affected, as megaspores did not progress beyond the functional megaspore (FG1) stage and the microspore collapsed around the first pollen mitosis. As for other mutants that affect embryo sac development, pollen tube guidance was severely affected in the ScFRK1 transgenic lines. Gametophyte to sporophyte communication was also affected, as observed from a marked change in the transcriptomic profiles of the sporophytic tissues of the ovule. The ScFRK1 MAPKKK is thus involved in a signalling cascade that regulates both male and female gamete development.
Project description:We perform a quantitative RNA-seq analysis of embryo sacs, comparator ovules with the embryo sacs removed, mature pollen, and seedlings to assist the identification of gametophyte functions in maize. Expression levels were determined for annotated genes in both gametophytes, and novel transcripts were identified from de novo assembly of RNA-seq reads. RNA-seq was performed on four tissue types: nine-day old, above-ground seedling (S); mature pollen (MP); embryo-sac-enriched samples with some remaining nucellar cells (ES); and ovules with embryo sacs removed (Ov).
Project description:Communication between the gametophytes is vital for angiosperm fertilisation. Multiple CrRLK1L-type receptor kinases prevent premature pollen tube burst, while another CrRLK1L protein, FERONIA (FER), is required for pollen tube reception in the female gametophyte. We report here the identification of two additional CrRLK1L homologues, HERCULES RECEPTOR KINASE 1 (HERK1) and ANJEA (ANJ), which act redundantly to promote pollen tube growth arrest at the synergid cells. HERK1 and ANJ localise to the filiform apparatus of the synergid cells in unfertilised ovules, and in herk1 anj mutants a majority of ovules remain unfertilised due to pollen tube overgrowth, together indicating that HERK1 and ANJ act as female determinants for fertilisation. As in fer mutants, the synergid cell-specific, endomembrane protein NORTIA (NTA) is not relocalised after pollen tube reception; however, unlike fer mutants, reactive oxygen species levels are unaffected in herk1 anj double mutants. Both ANJ and HERK1 associate with FER and its proposed co-receptor LORELEI (LRE) in planta. Together, our data indicate that HERK1 and ANJ act with FER to mediate female-male gametophyte interactions during plant fertilisation.
Project description:Communication between the gametophytes is vital for angiosperm fertilisation. Multiple CrRLK1L-type receptor kinases prevent premature pollen tube burst, while another CrRLK1L protein, FERONIA (FER), is required for pollen tube reception in the female gametophyte. We report here the identification of two additional CrRLK1L homologues, HERCULES RECEPTOR KINASE 1 (HERK1) and ANJEA (ANJ), which act redundantly to promote pollen tube growth arrest at the synergid cells. HERK1 and ANJ localise to the filiform apparatus of the synergid cells in unfertilised ovules, and in herk1 anj mutants, a majority of ovules remain unfertilised due to pollen tube overgrowth, together indicating that HERK1 and ANJ act as female determinants for fertilisation. As in fer mutants, the synergid cell-specific, endomembrane protein NORTIA (NTA) is not relocalised after pollen tube reception; however, unlike fer mutants, reactive oxygen species levels are unaffected in herk1 anj double mutants. Both ANJ and HERK1 associate with FER and its proposed co-receptor LORELEI (LRE) in planta. Together, our data indicate that HERK1 and ANJ act with FER to mediate female-male gametophyte interactions during plant fertilisation.
Project description:Histidine phosphotransfer proteins (HPs) are key elements of the two-component signaling system, which act as a shuttle to transfer phosphorylation signals from histidine kinases (HKs) to response regulators (RRs). CYTOKININ INDEPENDENT 1 (CKI1), a key regulator of central cell specification in the Arabidopsis female gametophyte, activates the cytokinin signaling pathway through the Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer proteins (AHPs). There are five HP genes in Arabidopsis, AHP1-AHP5, but it remains unknown which AHP genes act downstream of CKI1 in Arabidopsis female gametophyte development. Promoter activity analysis of AHP1-AHP5 in embryo sacs revealed AHP1, AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 expression in the central cell. Phenotypic studies of various combinations of ahp mutants showed that triple mutations in AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 resulted in defective embryo sac development. Using cell-specific single and double markers in the female gametophyte, the ahp2-2 ahp3 ahp5-2/+ triple mutant ovules showed loss of central cell and antipodal cell fates and gain of egg cell or synergid cell attributes, resembling the cki1 mutant phenotypes. These data suggest that AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 are the major factors acting downstream of CKI1 in the two-component cytokinin signaling pathway to promote Arabidopsis female gametophyte development.
Project description:The embryo sac, the female gametophyte of flowering plants, plays important roles in the pollination and fertilization process. Maize (Zea mays L.) is a model monocot, but little is known about the interactions between its embryo sac and the pollen tube. In this study, we compared the transcript profiles of mature embryo sacs, mature embryo sacs 14-16 h after pollination, and mature nucelli. Comparing the transcript profiles of the embryo sacs before and after the entry of the pollen tube, we identified 3467 differentially expressed transcripts (3382 differentially expressed genes; DEGs). The DEGs were grouped into 22 functional categories. Among the DEGs, 221 genes were induced upon the entry of the pollen tube, and many of them encoded proteins involved in RNA binding, processing, and transcription, signaling, miscellaneous enzyme family processes, and lipid metabolism processes. Genes in the DEG dataset were grouped into 17 classes in a gene ontology enrichment analysis. The DEGs included many genes encoding proteins involved in protein amino acid phosphorylation and protein ubiquitination, implying that these processes might play important roles in the embryo sac-pollen tube interaction. Additionally, our analyses indicate that the expression of 112 genes encoding cysteine-rich proteins (CRPs) is induced during pollination and fertilization. The CRPs likely regulate pollen tube guidance and embryo sac development. These results provide important information on the genes involved in the embryo sac-pollen tube interaction in maize.
Project description: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.