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J Plant Physiol. 2011 Nov 1;168(16):2001-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.05.014. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Arabidopsis mutant of AtABCG26, an ABC transporter gene, is defective in pollen maturation.

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Gene Discovery Research Group, RIKEN Plant Science Center, 1-7-22 Suehiro, Tsurumi, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.


In plants, pollen is the male gametophyte that is generated from microspores, which are haploid cells produced after meiosis of diploid pollen mother cells in floral anthers. In normal maturation, microspores interact with the tapetum, which consists of one layer of metabolically active cells enclosing the locule in anthers. The tapetum plays several important roles in the maturation of microspores. ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are a highly conserved protein super-family that uses the energy released in ATP hydrolysis to transport substrates. The ABC transporter gene family is more diverse in plants than in animals. Previously, we reported that an Arabidopsis half-size type ABC transporter gene, COF1/AtWBC11/AtABCG11, is involved in lipid transport for the construction of cuticle layers and pollen coats in normal organ formation, as compared to CER5/AtWBC12/AtABCG12. However, physiological functions of most other ABCG members are unknown. Here, we identified another family gene, AtABCG26, which is required for pollen development in Arabidopsis. An AtABCG26 mutant developed very few pollen grains, resulting in a male-sterile phenotype. By investigating microspore and pollen development in this mutant, we observed that there was a slight abnormality in tetrad morphology prior to the formation of haploid microspores. At a later stage, we could not detect exine deposition on the microspore surface. During pollen maturation, many grains in the mutant anthers got aborted, and surviving grains were found to be defective in mitosis. Transmission of the mutant allele through male gametophytes appeared to be normal in genetic transmission analysis, supporting the view that the pollen function was disturbed by sporophytic defects in the AtABCG26 mutant. AtABCG26 can be expected to be involved in the transport of substrates such as sporopollenin monomers from tapetum to microspores, which both are plant-specific structures critical to pollen development.

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