In flowering plants, formation of the haploid male gametophytes in anthers requires the interaction between reproductive cells and the neighboring somatic cells, yet the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we reveal the crucial role of a fasciclin glycoprotein, MICROSPORE AND TAPETUM REGULATOR1 (MTR1), in controlling the development of sporophytic and reproductive cells in rice (Oryza sativa). MTR1 is specifically expressed in the male reproductive cells, yet its mutant exhibits defects in both tapetum and microspore development, causing complete male sterility. We also demonstrate that the fasciclin domains, N-glycolation, and N-terminal signal peptide-mediated plasma membrane localization of MTR1 are required for normal anther development and pollen fertility. Our findings show that rice male reproductive cells secrete the MTR1 protein to control the development of reproductive cells and their adjacent somatic cells, thus providing novel insights into the mechanism of plant male reproductive development.
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