Background and aims: Rhamnogalacturonan-II (RG-II) is one of the pectin motifs found in the cell wall of all land plants. It contains sugars such as 2-keto-3-deoxy-d-lyxo-heptulosaric acid (Dha) and 2-keto-3-deoxy-d-manno-octulosonic acid (Kdo), and within the wall RG-II is mostly found as a dimer via a borate diester cross-link. To date, little is known regarding the biosynthesis of this motif. Here, after a brief review of our current knowledge on RG-II structure, biosynthesis and function in plants, this study explores the implications of the presence of a Golgi-localized sialyltransferase-like 2 (SIA2) protein that is possibly involved in the transfer of Dha or Kdo in the RG-II of Arabidopsis thaliana pollen tubes, a fast-growing cell type used as a model for the study of cell elongation.
Methods: Two heterozygous mutant lines of arabidopsis (sia2-1+/- and qrt1 × sia2-2+/-) were investigated. sia2-2+/- was in a quartet1 background and the inserted T-DNA contained the reporter gene β-glucuronidase (GUS) under the pollen-specific promoter LAT52. Pollen germination and pollen tube phenotype and growth were analysed both in vitro and in vivo by microscopy.
Key results: Self-pollination of heterozygous lines produced no homozygous plants in the progeny, which may suggest that the mutation could be lethal. Heterozygous mutants displayed a much lower germination rate overall and exhibited a substantial delay in germination (20 h of delay to reach 30 % of pollen grain germination compared with the wild type). In both lines, mutant pollen grains that were able to produce a tube had tubes that were either bursting, abnormal (swollen or dichotomous branching tip) or much shorter compared with wild-type pollen tubes. In vivo, mutant pollen tubes were restricted to the style, whereas the wild-type pollen tubes were detected at the base of the ovary.
Conclusions: This study highlights that the mutation in arabidopsis SIA2 encoding a sialyltransferase-like protein that may transfer Dha or Kdo on the RG-II motif has a dramatic effect on the stability of the pollen tube cell wall.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; Dha; Kdo; RG-II; Rhamnogalacturonan-II; pectin motif; plant cell wall; pollen tube; sialyltransferase-like protein.
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