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Keywords:

  • THERMOSENSITIVE MALE STERILE 1;
  • heat shock protein;
  • male sterility;
  • gametophyte;
  • pollen;
  • Arabidopsis

Summary

In most flowering plant species, pollination and fertilization occur during the hot summer, so plants must have evolved a mechanism that ensures normal growth of their pollen tubes at high temperatures. Despite its importance to plant reproduction, little is known about the molecular basis of thermotolerance in pollen tubes. Here we report the identification and characterization of a novel Arabidopsis gene, THERMOSENSITIVE MALE STERILE 1 (TMS1), which plays an important role in thermotolerance of pollen tubes. TMS1 encodes a Hsp40-homologous protein with a DnaJ domain and an a_ERdj5_C domain found in protein disulfide isomerases (PDI). Purified TMS1 expressed in Escherichia coli (BL21 DE3) had the reductive activity of PDI. TMS1 was expressed in pollen grains, pollen tubes and other vegetative tissues, including leaves, stems and roots. Heat shock treatment at 37°C increased its expression levels in growing pollen tubes as well as in vegetative tissues. A knockout mutation in TMS1 grown at 30°C had greatly retarded pollen tube growth in the transmitting tract, resulting in a significant reduction in male fertility. Our study suggests that TMS1 is required for thermotolerance of pollen tubes in Arabidopsis, possibly by functioning as a co-molecular chaperone.