Expression of antisense SnRK1 protein kinase sequence causes abnormal pollen development and male sterility in transgenic barley

Plant J. 2001 Nov;28(4):431-41. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.01167.x.


A chimaeric gene was constructed comprising a wheat high molecular weight glutenin subunit gene promoter, a 304-bp sucrose non-fermenting-1-related (SnRK1) protein kinase sequence in the antisense orientation, and the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S RNA gene terminator. Transgenic barley plants containing the antisense SnRK1 chimaeric gene were produced by particle bombardment of barley immature embryos with the aim of obtaining plants expressing the antisense SnRK1 sequence in the seeds. Despite the fact that the promoter was expected to be active only in seeds, two independent transgenic lines were found to fail to transmit the transgene to the T1 generation. These T0 plants had matured and died before this was discovered, but subsequently four other independent transgenic lines were found to be affected in the same way. Cytological analysis of the pollen grains in these lines showed that about 50% were normal but the rest had arrested at the binucleate stage of development, were small, pear-shaped, contained little or no starch and were non-functional. The presence of antisense SnRK1 transcripts was detected in the anthers of the four lines analyzed and a ubiquitin promoter/UidA (Gus) gene, one of the marker genes codelivered with the antisense gene, was found to be expressed only in the abnormal pollen. Expression analyses confirmed that SnRK1 is expressed in barley anthers and that expression of one class of SnRK1 transcripts (SnRK1b) was reduced in the abnormal lines. All of the abnormal lines showed approximately 50% seed set, and none of the transgenes were detected in the T1 generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Hordeum / cytology
  • Hordeum / genetics
  • Hordeum / growth & development*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pollen / cytology
  • Pollen / growth & development
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • RNA, Antisense / biosynthesis*
  • Reproduction


  • RNA, Antisense
  • SNF1-related protein kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases