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Plant J. 2013 Nov;76(4):592-602. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12318. Epub 2013 Oct 5.

Regulation of cell divisions and differentiation by MALE STERILITY32 is required for anther development in maize.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.


Male fertility in flowering plants relies on proper division and differentiation of cells in the anther, a process that gives rise to four somatic layers surrounding central germinal cells. The maize gene male sterility32 (ms32) encodes a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, which functions as an important regulator of both division and differentiation during anther development. After the four somatic cell layers are generated properly through successive periclinal divisions, in the ms32 mutant, tapetal precursor cells fail to differentiate, and, instead, undergo additional periclinal divisions to form extra layers of cells. These cells become vacuolated and expand, and lead to failure in pollen mother cell development. ms32 expression is specific to the pre-meiotic anthers and is distributed initially broadly in the four lobes, but as the anther develops, its expression becomes restricted to the innermost somatic layer, the tapetum. The ms32-ref mac1-1 double mutant is unable to form tapetal precursors and also exhibits excessive somatic proliferation leading to numerous, disorganized cell layers, suggesting a synergistic interaction between ms32 and mac1. Altogether, our results show that MS32 is a major regulator in maize anther development that promotes tapetum differentiation and inhibits periclinal division once a tapetal cell is specified.

© 2013 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


anther development; bHLH; cell division; cytology; differentiation; maize

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