Formation of the unique and highly diverse outer cell wall, or exine, of pollen is essential for normal pollen function and survival. However, little is known about the many contributing proteins and processes involved in the formation of this wall. The tomato gene LeGRP92 encodes for a glycine-rich protein produced specifically in the tapetum. LeGRP92 is found as four major forms that accumulate differentially in protein extracts from stamens at different developmental stages. The three largest molecular weight forms accumulated during early microspore development, while the smallest molecular weight form of LeGRP92 was present in protein extracts from stamens from early microsporogenesis through anther dehiscence, and was the only form present in dehisced pollen. Light microscopy immunolocalization experiments detected LeGRP92 at only two stages, late tetrad and early free microspore. However, we observed accumulation of the LeGRP92 at the early tetrad stage of development by removing the callose wall from tetrads, which allowed LeGRP92 detection. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed the LeGRP92 accumulation from microspore mother cells, tetrads through anther dehiscence. It was observed in the callose surrounding the microspore mother cells and tetrads, the exine of microspores and mature pollen, and orbicules. Plants expressing antisense RNA had reduced levels of LeGRP92 mRNA and protein, which correlated to pollen with altered exine formation and reduced pollen viability and germination. These data suggest that the LeGRP92 has a role in facilitating sporopollenin deposition and uniform exine formation and pollen viability.
- Glycine-rich protein
- Pollen viability