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Plant Cell. Oct 1997; 9(10): 1757–1766.
PMCID: PMC157019

Hypervariable Domains of Self-Incompatibility RNases Mediate Allele-Specific Pollen Recognition.


Self-incompatibility (SI) in angiosperms is a genetic mechanism that promotes outcrossing through rejection of self-pollen. In the Solanaceae, SI is determined by a multiallelic S locus whose only known product is an S RNase. S RNases show a characteristic pattern of five conserved and two hypervariable regions. These are thought to be involved in the catalytic function and in allelic specificity, respectively. When the Solanum chacoense S12S14 genotype is transformed with an S11 RNase, the styles of plants expressing significant levels of the transgene reject S11 pollen. A previously characterized S RNase, S13, differs from the S11 RNase by only 10 amino acids, four of which are located in the hypervariable regions. When S12S14 plants were transformed with a chimeric S11 gene in which these four residues were substituted with those present in the S13 RNase, the transgenic plants acquired the S13 phenotype. This result demonstrates that the S RNase hypervariable regions control allelic specificity.

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Selected References

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