Indexed on: 12 Apr '06Published on: 12 Apr '06Published in: Plant physiology
Male fertility depends on the proper development of the male gametophyte, successful pollen germination, tube growth, and delivery of the sperm cells to the ovule. Previous studies have shown that nutrients like boron, and ion gradients or currents of Ca2+, H+, and K+ are critical for pollen tube growth. However, the molecular identities of transporters mediating these fluxes are mostly unknown. As a first step to integrate transport with pollen development and function, a genome-wide analysis of transporter genes expressed in the male gametophyte at four developmental stages was conducted. Approximately 1,269 genes encoding classified transporters were collected from the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) genome. Of 757 transporter genes expressed in pollen, 16% or 124 genes, including AHA6, CNGC18, TIP1.3, and CHX08, are specifically or preferentially expressed relative to sporophytic tissues. Some genes are highly expressed in microspores and bicellular pollen (COPT3, STP2, OPT9), while others are activated only in tricellular or mature pollen (STP11, LHT7). Analyses of entire gene families showed that a subset of genes, including those expressed in sporophytic tissues, was developmentally regulated during pollen maturation. Early and late expression patterns revealed by transcriptome analysis are supported by promoter::beta-glucuronidase analyses of CHX genes and by other methods. Recent genetic studies based on a few transporters, including plasma membrane H+ pump AHA3, Ca2+ pump ACA9, and K+ channel SPIK, further support the expression patterns and the inferred functions revealed by our analyses. Thus, revealing the distinct expression patterns of specific transporters and unknown polytopic proteins during microgametogenesis provides new insights for strategic mutant analyses necessary to integrate the roles of transporters and potential receptors with male gametophyte development.