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Plant Cell. 2010 Dec;22(12):4067-83. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.080036. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Analysis of TETRAKETIDE α-PYRONE REDUCTASE function in Arabidopsis thaliana reveals a previously unknown, but conserved, biochemical pathway in sporopollenin monomer biosynthesis.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Unité Propre de Recherche 2357 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Strasbourg, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


The precise structure of the sporopollenin polymer that is the major constituent of exine, the outer pollen wall, remains poorly understood. Recently, characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana genes and corresponding enzymes involved in exine formation has demonstrated the role of fatty acid derivatives as precursors of sporopollenin building units. Fatty acyl-CoA esters synthesized by ACYL-COA SYNTHETASE5 (ACOS5) are condensed with malonyl-CoA by POLYKETIDE SYNTHASE A (PKSA) and PKSB to yield α-pyrone polyketides required for exine formation. Here, we show that two closely related genes encoding oxidoreductases are specifically and transiently expressed in tapetal cells during microspore development in Arabidopsis anthers. Mutants compromised in expression of the reductases displayed a range of pollen exine layer defects, depending on the mutant allele. Phylogenetic studies indicated that the two reductases belong to a large reductase/dehydrogenase gene family and cluster in two distinct clades with putative orthologs from several angiosperm lineages and the moss Physcomitrella patens. Recombinant proteins produced in bacteria reduced the carbonyl function of tetraketide α-pyrone compounds synthesized by PKSA/B, and the proteins were therefore named TETRAKETIDE α-PYRONE REDUCTASE1 (TKPR1) and TKPR2 (previously called DRL1 and CCRL6, respectively). TKPR activities, together with those of ACOS5 and PKSA/B, identify a conserved biosynthetic pathway leading to hydroxylated α-pyrone compounds that were previously unknown to be sporopollenin precursors.

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