In bryophytes (lower plants), sex determination is manifested in the gametophyte generation by the production of egg- and sperm-forming gametangia. We identified four genes specifically expressed in the male thalli of dioecious liverwort Pellia endiviifolia species B using RDA-cDNA method. These are: PenB_TUA1 coding for an α-tubulin family protein, PenB_Raba1/11 coding for a Rab family protein, PenB_HMG-box coding for an HMG-box family protein and PenB_MT coding for an unknown transcript that contains an ORF of 295 amino acid residues. The expression of identified genes shows developmental and environmental regulation. PenB_TUA1 and PenB_Raba1/11 are expressed in the male thalli, regardless of whether they develop antheridia. PenB_HMG-box and PenB_MT are exclusively expressed in the male thalli-producing antheridia while growing in the field. Moreover, two genes PenB_TUA1 and PenB_Raba1/11 are encoded only in the male genome of P. endiviifolia sp B. Our studies show for the first time the specific contribution of identified genes in the liverwort male gametophyte development. In higher plants, correct regulation of α-tubulin and Rab family genes activity is essential for tip-focused membrane trafficking and growth of the male gametophyte. Thus these genes are critical to the reproductive success of these plants. Plant HMG-box proteins bind DNA and may affect chromatin structure, promoting the assembly of nucleoprotein complexes that control DNA-dependent processes including transcription. Our results show that genes connected with the gametogenesis processes are evolutionarily conserved from the liverworts - the oldest living land plants, to higher plants.
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