S-RNase expressed in transgenic Nicotiana causes S-allele-specific pollen rejection

Nature. 1994 Feb 10;367(6463):563-6. doi: 10.1038/367563a0.


Many angiosperms employ self-incompatibility systems to prevent inbreeding. The simple genetics of such systems have made them attractive models of plant cellular communication. Implicit in the single locus genetics is that only one or a few gene products are necessary for recognition and rejection of incompatible pollen. Results in the sporophytic system of the Brassicaceae suggest that different S-locus products are responsible for the pollen and pistil parts of the recognition and rejection response. In solanaeceous plants, which have a gametophytic self-incompatibility system, the S locus product responsible for the pollen portion of the interaction has not been identified, but ribonucleases encoded by the S-locus (S-RNases) are strongly implicated in the style part of the recognition and rejection reaction. In Nicotiana alata, pollen recognition and rejection occur if its S-allele matches either S-allele in the style. The putative stylar S-RNase is abundant in the transmitting tract, and pollen rejection may be related to action of S-RNase on pollen RNAs. Efforts to understand the molecular basis for pollen recognition and rejection have been limited by the lack of a system for manipulating and expressing S-RNases. Here we use the promoter of a style-expressed gene from tomato to obtain high levels of S-RNase expression in transgenic Nicotiana. Recognition and rejection of N. alata pollen S-alleles occur faithfully in the transgenic plants. Our results show that S-RNases alone are sufficient for pollen rejection in this system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Chitinases / genetics
  • Culture Techniques
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Pollen*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Ribonucleases / genetics*
  • Tobacco / genetics*
  • Vegetables / enzymology
  • Vegetables / genetics


  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Plant Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Ribonucleases
  • ribonuclease S
  • Chitinases