Intercellular communication in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen discovered via AHG3 transcript movement from the vegetative cell to sperm

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 27;112(43):13378-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1510854112. Epub 2015 Oct 14.


An Arabidopsis pollen grain (male gametophyte) consists of three cells: the vegetative cell, which forms the pollen tube, and two sperm cells enclosed within the vegetative cell. It is still unclear if there is intercellular communication between the vegetative cell and the sperm cells. Here we show that ABA-hypersensitive germination3 (AHG3), encoding a protein phosphatase, is specifically transcribed in the vegetative cell but predominantly translated in sperm cells. We used a series of deletion constructs and promoter exchanges to document transport of AHG3 transcripts from the vegetative cell to sperm and showed that their transport requires sequences in both the 5' UTR and the coding region. Thus, in addition its known role in transporting sperm during pollen tube growth, the vegetative cell also contributes transcripts to the sperm cells.

Keywords: mRNA transport; pollen; protein phosphatase 2C; sperm; vegetative nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Germ Cells, Plant / metabolism
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism*
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Pollen / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • AHG3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases