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Plant Cell. 2007 Feb;19(2):582-96. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Tapetosomes in Brassica tapetum accumulate endoplasmic reticulum-derived flavonoids and alkanes for delivery to the pollen surface.

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Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.


Tapetosomes are abundant organelles in tapetum cells during the active stage of pollen maturation in Brassicaceae species. They possess endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived vesicles and oleosin-coated lipid droplets, but their overall composition and function have not been established. In situ localization analyses of developing Brassica napus anthers revealed flavonoids present exclusively in tapetum cells, first in an ER network along with flavonoid-3'-hydroxylase and then in ER-derived tapetosomes. Flavonoids were absent in the cytosol, elaioplasts, vacuoles, and nuclei. Subcellular fractionation of developing anthers localized both flavonoids and alkanes in tapetosomes. Subtapetosome fractionation localized flavonoids in ER-derived vesicles, and alkanes and oleosins in lipid droplets. After tapetum cell death, flavonoids, alkanes, and oleosins were located on mature pollen. In the Arabidopsis thaliana mutants tt12 and tt19 devoid of a flavonoid transporter, flavonoids were present in the cytosol in reduced amounts but absent in tapetosomes and were subsequently located on mature pollen. tt4, tt12, and tt19 pollen was more susceptible than wild-type pollen to UV-B irradiation on subsequent germination. Thus, tapetosomes accumulate ER-derived flavonoids, alkanes, and oleosins for discharge to the pollen surface upon cell death. This tapetosome-originated pollen coat protects the haploidic pollen from UV light damage and water loss and aids water uptake.

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