A mechanism that precisely guides pollen tube growth

Yang et al. investigate the role of the phospholipid flippase ALA3 in pollen tube guidance in Arabidopsis.  

 Background: In flowering plants, pollen tube guidance regulates the rapid growth and timely targeting of the pollen tube to the ovule in the pistil during sexual reproduction, when signaling between the male and female gametophytes occur. The small peptide-RLK signaling module is essential for the interaction between the male and female gametophyte. Certain members of the pollen-specific receptor kinase (PRK) family have different subcellular localization patterns in Arabidopsis pollen tubes and play critical roles in pollen tube growth and guidance. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate and maintain the polar localization of PRKs at the pollen tube tip are still unknown.

 Question: We were interested in exploring how Arabidopsis P4-ATPase (aminophospholipid ATPase, ALA) precisely regulates pollen tube guidance and maintains the polar localization patterns of PRK6 and PRK3. How plant ALA family members regulate pollen tube guidance has not yet been documented.

 Findings: The loss of ALA3 function not only caused sluggish pollen tube growth and aberrant ovule targeting but also affected the polar localization patterns of several PRKs at the pollen tube tip. Members of the PRKs family can directly interact with anionic phospholipids such as phosphatidylserine (PS), and the capacity of PRK3/6 to bind anionic phospholipids is crucial for both their polar localization and physiological functions. ALA3 establishes and maintains the polar distribution of PS, which influences secretory vesicles-mediated polar trafficking at the pollen tube tip to affect the distribution of PRK3 and PRK6. On the other hand, PS might also directly recruit PRK3 and PRK6 to the pollen tube tip and sustain their localization.

Next steps: The localization of PRKs is a complex, finely regulated process. The C-termini of PRKs may also affect their polar distribution. More research is required to reveal how the C-terminus domain precisely controls the localization of PRKs.

Yang Yang, Yue Niu, Tao Chen, Hongkai Zhang, Jingxia Zhang, Dong Qian, Mengmeng Bi, Yuemin Fan, Lizhe An, Yun Xiang (2022). The phospholipid flippase ALA3 regulates pollen tube growth and guidance in Arabidopsis. https://doi.org/10.1093/plcell/koac208