Genes essential for gametophyte development and fertilization have been identified and studied in detail; however, genes that fine-tune these processes are largely unknown. Here, we characterized an unknown Arabidopsis gene, GTP-BINDING PROTEIN RELATED1 (GPR1). GPR1 is specifically expressed in ovule, pollen, and pollen tube. Enhanced green fluorescent protein-tagged GPR1 localizes to both nucleus and cytoplasm, and it also presents in punctate and ring-like structures. gpr1 mutants exhibit no defect in gametogenesis and seed setting, except that their pollen grains are pale in color. Scanning electron microscopy analyses revealed a normal patterned but thinner exine on gpr1 pollen surface. This may explain why gpr1 pollen grains are pale. We next examined whether GPR1 mutation affects post gametogenesis processes including pollen germination, pollen tube growth, and ovule senescence. We found that gpr1 pollen grains germinated earlier, and their pollen tubes elongated faster. Emasculation assay revealed that unfertilized gpr1 pistil expressed the senescence marker PBFN1:GUS (GUS: a reporter gene that encodes β-glucuronidase) one-day earlier than the wild type pistil. Consistently, ovules and pollen grains of gpr1 mutants showed lower viability than those of the wild type at 4 to 5 days post anthesis. Together, these data suggest that GPR1 functions as a negative regulator of pollen germination, pollen tube growth, and gametophyte senescence to fine-tune the fertilization process.
Keywords: expression; gametophyte; pollen exine; pollen germination; pollen tube; senescence.