An anther-specific dihydroflavonol 4-reductase-like gene (DRL1) is essential for male fertility in Arabidopsis

New Phytol. 2009;181(3):576-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02692.x. Epub 2008 Nov 25.


Arabidopsis contains only one functional dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) gene, but several DFR-like genes encoding proteins with the conserved NAD(P)H binding domain. At4g35420, named DRL1 (Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase-like1), is a closely related homolog of the rice anther-specific gene OsDFR2 reported previously. Two T-DNA mutants (drl1-1 and drl1-2) were found to have impaired pollen formation and seed production. Histological analysis revealed defective microspore development after tetrad release in both mutants. Microspore walls were found to rupture, releasing the protoplasts which eventually degenerated. The DRL1 promoter is anther-specific in closed flower buds. Promoter-GUS analysis in transgenic Arabidopsis revealed expression in tapetum, tetrads, and developing microspores, but not in mature anthers. Enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP)-localization analysis demonstrated that DRL1 is a soluble cytosolic protein that may also be localized in the nucleus. Restoration of male fertility and seed formation was only achieved by a native promoter-DRL1 construct, but not by a 35S-DRL1 construct, demonstrating the importance of spatial and temporal specificities of DRL1 expression. DRL1 may be involved in a novel metabolic pathway essential for pollen wall development. DRL1 homologs were identified as anther- and floral-specific expressed sequence tags from different species, suggesting that DRL1 may have a conserved functional role in male fertility in flowering plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / chemistry
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Fertility
  • Flowers / cytology
  • Flowers / enzymology*
  • Flowers / genetics*
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phenotype
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Transport
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • T-DNA
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • dihydroflavanol 4-reductase
  • Glucuronidase