The MADS (MCM1-AGAMOUS-DEFFICIENS-SRF) gene family has a preserved domain called MADS-box that regulates downstream gene expression as a transcriptional factor. Reports have revealed three MADS genes in rice, OsMADS62, OsMADS63, and OsMADS68, which exhibits preferential expression in mature rice pollen grains. To better understand the transcriptional regulation of pollen germination and tube growth in rice, we generated the loss-of-function homozygous mutant of these three OsMADS genes using the CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats-CRISPR associated protein 9) system in wild-type backgrounds. Results showed that the triple knockout (KO) mutant showed a complete sterile phenotype without pollen germination. Next, to determine downstream candidate genes that are transcriptionally regulated by the three OsMADS genes during pollen development, we proceeded with RNA-seq analysis by sampling the mature anther of the mutant and wild-type. Two hundred and seventy-four upregulated and 658 downregulated genes with preferential expressions in the anthers were selected. Furthermore, downregulated genes possessed cell wall modification, clathrin coat assembly, and cellular cell wall organization features. We also selected downregulated genes predicted to be directly regulated by three OsMADS genes through the analyses for promoter sequences. Thus, this study provides a molecular background for understanding pollen germination and tube growth mediated by OsMADS62, OsMADS63, and OsMADS68 with mature pollen preferred expression.
Keywords: CRISPR-cas; MADS; Oryza sativa; cell wall; pollen germination; starch.