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Plant Physiol. 2005 Jun;138(2):977-89. Epub 2005 May 13.

Genome-wide identification of genes expressed in Arabidopsis pistils specifically along the path of pollen tube growth.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Plant reproductive development is dependent on successful pollen-pistil interactions. In crucifers, the pollen tube must breach the stigma surface and burrow through the extracellular matrix of the stigma epidermal cells and transmitting tract cells before reaching its ovule targets. The high degree of specificity in pollen-pistil interactions and the precision of directional pollen tube growth suggest that signals are continually being exchanged between pollen/pollen tubes and cells of the pistil that line their path. However, with few exceptions, little is known about the genes that control these interactions. The specialized functions of stigma epidermal cells and transmitting tract cells are likely to depend on the activity of genes expressed specifically in these cells. In order to identify these genes, we used the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) ATH1 microarray to compare the whole-genome transcriptional profiles of stigmas and ovaries isolated from wild-type Arabidopsis and from transgenic plants in which cells of the stigma epidermis and transmitting tract were specifically ablated by expression of a cellular toxin. Among the 23,000 genes represented on the array, we identified 115 and 34 genes predicted to be expressed specifically in the stigma epidermis and transmitting tract, respectively. Both gene sets were significantly enriched in predicted secreted proteins, including potential signaling components and proteins that might contribute to reinforcing, modifying, or remodeling the structure of the extracellular matrix during pollination. The possible role of these genes in compatible and incompatible pollen-pistil interactions is discussed.

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