TETRASPORE encodes a kinesin required for male meiotic cytokinesis in Arabidopsis


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A key step in pollen formation is the segregation of the products of male meiosis into a tetrad of microspores, each of which develops into a pollen grain. Separation of microspores does not occur in tetraspore (tes) mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana, owing to the failure of male meiotic cytokinesis. tes mutants thus generate large ‘tetraspores’ containing all the products of a single meiosis. Here, we report the positional cloning of the TES locus and details of the role played by the TES product in male cytokinesis. The predicted TES protein includes an N-terminal domain homologous to kinesin motors and a C-terminus with little similarity to other proteins except for a small number of plant kinesins. These include the Arabidopsis HINKEL protein and NACK1 and two from tobacco (Nishihama et al., 2002), which are involved in microtubule organization during mitotic cytokinesis. Immunocytochemistry shows that the characteristic radial arrays of microtubules associated with male meiotic cytokinesis fail to form in tes mutants. The TES protein therefore is likely to function as a microtubule-associated motor, playing a part either in the formation of the radial arrays that establish spore domains following meiosis, or in maintaining their stability.