PERSISTENT TAPETAL CELL2 Is Required for Normal Tapetal Programmed Cell Death and Pollen Wall Patterning

The timely programmed cell death (PCD) of the tapetum, the innermost somatic anther cell layer in flowering plants, is critical for pollen development, including the deposition and patterning of the pollen wall. Although several genes involved in tapetal PCD and pollen wall development have been characterized, the underlying regulatory mechanism remains elusive. Here we report that PERSISTENT TAPETAL CELL2 (PTC2), which encodes an AT-hook nuclear localized protein in rice (Oryza sativa), is required for normal tapetal PCD and pollen wall development. The mutant ptc2 showed persistent tapetal cells and abnormal pollen wall patterning including absent nexine, collapsed bacula, and disordered tectum. The defective tapetal PCD phenotype of ptc2 was similar to that of a PCD delayed mutant, ptc1, in rice, while the abnormal pollen wall patterning resembled that of a pollen wall defective mutant, Transposable Element Silencing Via AT-Hook, in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Levels of anther cutin monomers in ptc2 anthers were significantly reduced, as was expression of a series of lipid biosynthetic genes. PTC2 transcript and protein were shown to be present in the anther after meiosis, consistent with the observed phenotype. Based on these data, we propose a model explaining how PTC2 affects anther and pollen development. The characterization of PTC2 in tapetal PCD and pollen wall patterning expands our understanding of the regulatory network of male reproductive development in rice and will aid future breeding approaches.

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