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Plant J. 1997 Apr;11(4):797-808.

Exchanging sequence domains between S-RNases from Nicotiana alata disrupts pollen recognition.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Columbia 65211, USA.


In self-incompatible plants of the Solanaceae, the specificity of pollen rejection is controlled by a single multiallelic S-locus. Pollen tube growth is inhibited in the style when its single S-allele matches either S-allele present in the diploid pistil. Each S-allele encodes an S-RNase with a unique sequence. S-RNases are secreted into the extra-cellular matrix of the transmitting tract which guides pollen tubes toward the ovary. Although it is known that S-RNases are the determinants of S-allele specificity in the pistil, it is not known how allele-specific information is encoded in the sequence. Therefore, we exchanged domains between S-RNases with different recognition specificities and expressed the chimeric proteins in transgenic plants to determine their effects on pollination behavior. Nine chimeric constructs were prepared in which domains from Nicotiana alata SA2- and SC10-RNases were exchanged. Among these nine constructs, the entire S-RNase sequence was sampled by exchanging single variable domains as well as larger blocks of contiguous sequences. The chimeric S-RNases retained enzymatic activity and were expressed at levels comparable to control transformants expressing SA2- and SC10-RNases. However, none of the chimeric S-RNases caused rejection of either SA2- or SC10-pollen. We conclude that the recognition function of S-RNases can be disrupted by alterations in many parts of the sequence. It appears that the recognition function of S-RNase is not localized to a specific domain.

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