Structural and signaling networks for the polar cell growth machinery in pollen tubes

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2008;59:547-72. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092921.


Pollen tubes elongate within the pistil to transport sperms to the female gametophytes for fertilization. Pollen tubes grow at their tips through a rapid and polarized cell growth process. This tip growth process is supported by an elaborate and dynamic actin cytoskeleton and a highly active membrane trafficking system that together provide the driving force and secretory activities needed for growth. A polarized cytoplasm with an abundance of vesicles and tip-focused Ca(2+) and H(+) concentration gradients are important for the polar cell growth process. Apical membrane-located Rho GTPases regulate Ca(2+) concentration and actin dynamics in the cytoplasm and are crucial for maintaining pollen tube polarity. Pollen tube growth is marked by periods of rapid and slow growth phases. Activities that regulate and support this tip growth process also show oscillatory fluctuations. How these activities correlate with the rapid, polar, and oscillatory pollen tube growth process is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Plant Proteins / physiology
  • Pollen / cytology*
  • Pollen / physiology*
  • Pollen Tube / cytology*
  • Pollen Tube / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Actins
  • Plant Proteins