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Dev Biol. 2007 Mar 15;303(2):405-20. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

How pollen tubes grow.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215, USA.


Sexual reproduction of flowering plants depends on delivery of the sperm to the egg, which occurs through a long, polarized projection of a pollen cell, called the pollen tube. The pollen tube grows exclusively at its tip, and this growth is distinguished by very fast rates and reaches extended lengths. Thus, one of the most fascinating aspects of pollen biology is the question of how enough cell wall material is produced to accommodate such rapid extension of pollen tube, and how the cell wall deposition and structure are regulated to allow for rapid changes in the direction of growth. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of the mechanism of pollen tube growth, focusing on such basic cellular processes as control of cell shape and growth by a network of cell wall-modifying enzymes, molecular motor-mediated vesicular transport, and intracellular signaling by localized gradients of second messengers.

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