The pollen wall protects pollen grains from abiotic and biotic stresses. During pollen wall development, tapetal cells play a vital role by secreting proteins, signals, and pollen wall material to ensure microspore development. But the regulatory mechanism underlying the secretory pathway of the tapetum is largely unknown. Here, we characterize the essential role of the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) COPII protein SECRETORY31B (SEC31B) in pollen wall development and the secretory activity of tapetal cells. The sporophyte-controlled atsec31b mutant exhibits severe pollen and seed abortion. Transmission electron microscopy observation indicates that pollen exine formation in the atsec31b mutant is disrupted significantly. AtSEC31B is a functional COPII protein revealed by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) exit site localization, interaction with AtSEC13A, and retarded ER-Golgi protein trafficking in the atsec31b mutant. A genetic tapetum-specific rescue assay indicates that AtSEC31B functions primarily in the tapetum. Moreover, deletion of AtSEC31B interrupted the formation of the ER-derived tapetosome and altered the location of the ATP-BINDING CASSETTE TRANSPORTER9 protein in the tapetum. Therefore, this work demonstrates that AtSEC31B plays a vital role in pollen wall development by regulating the secretory pathway of the tapetal cells.
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