Molecular plant

Two Tightly Linked Genes at the hsa1 Locus Cause Both F1 and F2 Hybrid Sterility in Rice.

PMID 26455463


Molecular mechanisms of hybrid breakdown associated with sterility (F2 sterility) are poorly understood as compared with those of F1 hybrid sterility. Previously, we characterized three unlinked epistatic loci, hybrid sterility-a1 (hsa1), hsa2, and hsa3, responsible for the F2 sterility in a cross between Oryza sativa ssp. indica and japonica. In this study, we identified that the hsa1 locus contains two interacting genes, HSA1a and HSA1b, within a 30-kb region. HSA1a-j (japonica allele) encodes a highly conserved plant-specific domain of unknown function protein (DUF1618), whereas the indica allele (HSA1a-i(s)) has two deletion mutations that cause disruption of domain structure. The second gene, HSA1b-i(s), encodes an uncharacterized protein with some similarity to a nucleotide-binding protein. Homozygous introgression of indica HSA1a-i(s)-HSA1b-i(s) alleles into japonica showed female gamete abortion at an early mitotic stage. The fact that the recombinant haplotype HSA1a-j-HSA1b-i(s) caused semi-sterility in the heterozygous state with the HSA1a-i(s)-HSA1b-i(s) haplotype suggests that variation in the hsa1 locus is a possible cause of the wide-spectrum sterility barriers seen in F1 hybrids and successive generations in rice. We propose a simple genetic model to explain how a single causal mechanism can drive both F1 and F2 hybrid sterility.