• Production of unisexual flowers is an important mechanism that promotes cross-pollination in angiosperms. We previously identified primordial anther-specific DNA damage and organ-specific ethylene perception responsible for the arrest of stamen development in female flowers, but little is known about how the two processes are linked. • To identify potential links between the two processes, we performed suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) on cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) stamens of male and female flowers at stage 6, with stamens at stage 5 of bisexual flowers as a control. • Among the differentially expressed genes, we identified an expressed sequence tag (EST) encoding a cucumber homolog to an Arabidopsis calcium-dependent nuclease (CAN), designated CsCaN. Full-length CsCaN cDNA and the respective genomic DNA sequence were cloned and characterized. The CsCaN protein exhibited calcium-dependent nuclease activity. CsCaN showed ubiquitous expression; however, increased gene expression was detected in the stamens of stage 6 female flowers compared with male flowers. As expected, CsCaN expression was ethylene inducible. It was of great interest that CsCaN was post-translationally modified. • This study demonstrated that CsCaN is a novel cucumber nuclease gene, whose DNase activity is regulated at multiple levels, and which could be involved in the primordial anther-specific DNA damage of developing female cucumber flowers.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.