Three MYB transcription factors control pollen tube differentiation required for sperm release.
ABSTRACT: In flowering plants, immotile sperm cells develop within the pollen grain and are delivered to female gametes by a pollen tube. Upon arrival at the female gametophyte, the pollen tube stops growing and releases sperm cells for successful fertilization. Several female signaling components essential for pollen tube reception have been identified; however, male components remain unknown. We show that the expression of three closely related MYB transcription factors is induced in pollen tubes by growth in the pistil. Pollen tubes lacking these three transcriptional regulators fail to stop growing in synergids, specialized cells flanking the egg cell that attract pollen tubes and degenerate upon pollen tube arrival. myb triple-mutant pollen tubes also fail to release their sperm cargo. We define a suite of pollen tube-expressed genes regulated by these critical MYBs and identify transporters, carbohydrate-active enzymes, and small peptides as candidate molecular mediators of pollen tube-female interactions necessary for flowering plant reproduction. Our data indicate that de novo transcription in the pollen tube nucleus during growth in the pistil leads to pollen tube differentiation required for release of sperm cells.
Project description:Flowering plants have immotile sperm that develop within pollen and must be carried to female gametes by a pollen tube. The pollen tube engages in molecular interactions with several cell types within the pistil and these interactions are essential for successful fertilization. We identified a group of three closely related pollen tube-expressed MYB transcription factors (MYB97, MYB101, MYB120), which are required for proper interaction of the pollen tube with the female gametophyte. These transcription factors are transcriptionally induced during growth in the pistil. They regulate a transcriptional network leading to proper differentiation and maturation of the pollen tube, promoting proper pollen tube-ovule interactions resulting in sperm release and double fertilization. We used microarrays to discover genes regulated by the transcription factors MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 in pollen tubes growing through the pistil at 8 hours after pollination. Pistils were collected from ms1 (Male Sterile 1) pistils that were unpollinated, or pollinated with either wild type (Col-0) pollen or myb triple mutant (myb97-1, myb101-4, myb120-3) pollen for 8 hours. We sought to examine transcriptional changes that were taking place in pollen tubes before they reached ovules in wild type pollen tubes, and what portion of this transcriptional regulation was due to MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120. Analysis of growth in the pistil allows discovery of transcriptional changes taking place during pollen tube growth in its native environment, as opposed to mature pollen or in vitro grown pollen, which are essentially naive conditions, as neither have interacted with the pistil environment and any signalling factors found therein.
Project description: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.
Project description:In eukaryotes, fertilization relies on complex and specialized mechanisms that achieve the precise delivery of the male gamete to the female gamete and their subsequent union [1-4]. In flowering plants, the haploid male gametophyte or pollen tube (PT)  carries two nonmotile sperm cells to the female gametophyte (FG) or embryo sac  during a long assisted journey through the maternal tissues [7-10]. In Arabidopsis, typically one PT reaches one of the two synergids of the FG (Figure 1A), where it terminates its growth and delivers the sperm cells, a poorly understood process called pollen-tube reception. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of the Arabidopsis mutant abstinence by mutual consent (amc). Interestingly, pollen-tube reception is impaired only when an amc pollen tube reaches an amc female gametophyte, resulting in pollen-tube overgrowth and completely preventing sperm discharge and the development of homozygous mutants. Moreover, we show that AMC is strongly and transiently expressed in both male and female gametophytes during fertilization and that AMC functions in gametophytes as a peroxin essential for protein import into peroxisomes. These findings show that peroxisomes play an unexpected key role in gametophyte recognition and implicate a diffusible signal emanating from either gametophyte that is required for pollen-tube discharge.
Project description:The precise delivery of male to female gametes during reproduction in eukaryotes requires complex signal exchanges and a flawless communication between male and female tissues. In angiosperms, molecular mechanisms have recently been revealed that are crucial for the dialog between male (pollen tube) and female gametophytes required for successful sperm delivery. When pollen tubes reach the female gametophyte, they arrest growth, burst and discharge their sperm cells. These processes are under the control of the female gametophyte via the receptor-like serine-threonine kinase (RLK) FERONIA (FER). However, the male signaling components that control the sperm delivery remain elusive. Here, we show that ANXUR1 and ANXUR2 (ANX1, ANX2), which encode the closest homologs of the FER-RLK in Arabidopsis, are preferentially expressed in pollen. Moreover, ANX1-YFP and ANX2-YFP fusion proteins display polar localization to the plasma membrane at the tip of the pollen tube. Finally, genetic analyses demonstrate that ANX1 and ANX2 function redundantly to control the timing of pollen tube discharge as anx1 anx2 double-mutant pollen tubes cease their growth and burst in vitro and fail to reach the female gametophytes in vivo. We propose that ANX-RLKs constitutively inhibit pollen tube rupture and sperm discharge at the tip of growing pollen tubes to sustain their growth within maternal tissues until they reach the female gametophytes. Upon arrival, the female FER-dependent signaling cascade is activated to mediate pollen tube reception and fertilization, while male ANX-dependent signaling is deactivated, enabling the pollen tube to rupture and deliver its sperm cells to effect fertilization.
Project description:Reproductive isolation is a prerequisite for speciation. Failure of communication between female tissues of the pistil and paternal pollen tubes imposes hybridization barriers in flowering plants. Arabidopsis thaliana LURE1 (AtLURE1) peptides and their male receptor PRK6 aid attraction of the growing pollen tube to the ovule. Here, we report that the knockout of the entire AtLURE1 gene family did not affect fertility, indicating that AtLURE1-PRK6-mediated signaling is not required for successful fertilization within one Arabidopsis species. AtLURE1s instead function as pollen tube emergence accelerators that favor conspecific pollen over pollen from other species and thus promote reproductive isolation. We also identified maternal peptides XIUQIU1 to -4, which attract pollen tubes regardless of species. Cooperation between ovule attraction and pollen tube growth acceleration favors conspecific fertilization and promotes reproductive isolation.
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: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:In double fertilization, a reproductive system unique to flowering plants, two immotile sperm are delivered to an ovule by a pollen tube. One sperm fuses with the egg to generate a zygote, the other with the central cell to produce endosperm. A mechanism preventing multiple pollen tubes from entering an ovule would ensure that only two sperm are delivered to female gametes. We use live-cell imaging and a novel mixed-pollination assay that can detect multiple pollen tubes and multiple sets of sperm within a single ovule to show that Arabidopsis efficiently prevents multiple pollen tubes from entering an ovule. However, when gamete-fusion defective hap2(gcs1) or duo1 sperm are delivered to ovules, as many as three additional pollen tubes are attracted. When gamete fusion fails, one of two pollen tube-attracting synergid cells persists, enabling the ovule to attract more pollen tubes for successful fertilization. This mechanism prevents the delivery of more than one pair of sperm to an ovule, provides a means of salvaging fertilization in ovules that have received defective sperm, and ensures maximum reproductive success by distributing pollen tubes to all ovules.
Project description:Pollen tube (PT) reception in flowering plants describes the crosstalk between the male and female gametophytes upon PT arrival at the synergid cells of the ovule. It leads to PT growth arrest, rupture, and sperm cell release, and is thus essential to ensure double fertilization. Here, we describe TURAN (TUN) and EVAN (EVN), two novel members of the PT reception pathway that is mediated by the FERONIA (FER) receptor-like kinase (RLK). Like fer, mutations in these two genes lead to PT overgrowth inside the female gametophyte (FG) without PT rupture. Mapping by next-generation sequencing, cytological analysis of reporter genes, and biochemical assays of glycoproteins in RNAi knockdown mutants revealed both genes to be involved in protein N-glycosylation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). TUN encodes a uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glycosyltransferase superfamily protein and EVN a dolichol kinase. In addition to their common role during PT reception in the synergids, both genes have distinct functions in the pollen: whereas EVN is essential for pollen development, TUN is required for PT growth and integrity by affecting the stability of the pollen-specific FER homologs ANXUR1 (ANX1) and ANX2. ANX1- and ANX2-YFP reporters are not expressed in tun pollen grains, but ANX1-YFP is degraded via the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) pathway, likely underlying the anx1/2-like premature PT rupture phenotype of tun mutants. Thus, as in animal sperm-egg interactions, protein glycosylation is essential for the interaction between the female and male gametophytes during PT reception to ensure fertilization and successful reproduction.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS: During sexual reproduction in higher angiosperms, the pollen tubes are directed to the ovules in the pistil to deliver sperm cells. This pollen tube attraction is highly species specific, and a group of small secreted proteins, TfCRPs, are necessary for this process in Torenia fournieri. METHODS: A candidate pollen tube attractant protein in Torenia concolor, a related species of T. fournieri, was isolated and the attractant abilities between them were compared. KEY RESULTS: TcCRP1, an orthologous gene of TfCRP1 from T. concolor, is expressed predominantly in the synergid cell. The gene product attracted pollen tubes in a concentration-dependent manner, but attracted fewer pollen tubes from the other species. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicated that this class of CRP proteins is a common pollen tube attractant in Torenia species. The sequence diversity of these proteins is important for species-specific pollen tube attraction.