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J Exp Bot. 2013 May;64(8):2359-72. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ert093.

Zm908p11, encoded by a short open reading frame (sORF) gene, functions in pollen tube growth as a profilin ligand in maize.

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State Key Laboratory for Agrobiotechnology, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China.


Double fertilization of flowering plants depends on the targeted transportation of sperm to the embryo sac by the pollen tube. Currently, little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate pollen germination and pollen tube growth in maize (Zea mays). Here, a maize pollen-predominant gene Zm908, with several putative short open reading frames (sORFs), was isolated and characterized. The longest ORF of Zm908 encodes a small protein of 97 amino acids. This was designated as Zm908p11 and is distributed throughout the maize pollen tube. Western blot detected the small peptide in mature pollen. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and northern blot analysis revealed that Zm908p11 was expressed predominantly in mature pollen grains. Ectopic overexpression of full-length Zm908 and Zm908p11 in tobacco resulted in defective pollen, while transgenic tobacco plants with a site-specific mutation or a frameshift mutation of Zm908p11 showed normal pollen development. Overexpression of Zm908p11 in maize decreased pollen germination efficiency. Maize pollen cDNA library screening and protein-protein interaction assays demonstrated that Zm908p11 interacts with maize profilin 1 (ZmPRO1). A microarray analysis identified 273 up-regulated and 203 down-regulated genes in the overexpressing transgenic Zm908p11 pollen. Taken together, these results indicate that Zm908 functions as Zm908p11, and binds to profilins as a novel ligand, with a required role during pollen tube growth in maize. Accordingly, a model is proposed for the role of Zm908p11 during pollen tube growth in maize.


Zea mays; Zm908p11.; pollen tube; pollen-predominant; profilin; short open reading frame

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