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Development. 2006 Dec;133(23):4761-9. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Arabidopsis HAP2 (GCS1) is a sperm-specific gene required for pollen tube guidance and fertilization.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Il 60637, USA.


In flowering plants, sperm cells develop in the pollen cytoplasm and are transported through floral tissues to an ovule by a pollen tube, a highly polarized cellular extension. After targeting an ovule, the pollen tube bursts, releasing two sperm that fertilize an egg and a central cell. Here, we identified the gene encoding Arabidopsis HAP2, demonstrating that it is allelic to GCS1. HAP2 is expressed only in the haploid sperm and is required for efficient pollen tube guidance to ovules. We identified an insertion (hap2-1) that disrupts the C-terminal portion of the protein and tags mutant pollen grains with the beta-glucuronidase reporter. By monitoring reporter expression, we showed that hap2-1 does not diminish pollen tube length in vitro or in the pistil, but it reduces ovule targeting by twofold. In addition, we show that the hap2 sperm that are delivered to ovules fail to initiate fertilization. HAP2 is predicted to encode a protein with an N-terminal secretion signal, a single transmembrane domain and a C-terminal histidine-rich domain. These results point to a dual role for HAP2, functioning in both pollen tube guidance and in fertilization. Moreover, our findings suggest that sperm, long considered to be passive cargo, are involved in directing the pollen tube to its target.

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