Molecular plant

Arabidopsis AT-hook protein TEK positively regulates the expression of arabinogalactan proteins for Nexine formation.

PMID 25616387


Nexine is a conserved layer of the pollen wall. We previously reported that the nexine layer is absent in the knockout mutant of Arabidopsis TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENT SILENCING VIA AT-HOOK (TEK) gene. In this study, we investigated the molecular regulatory functions of TEK in pollen development and identified the genes encoding Arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) as direct targets of TEK, which are essential for nexine formation. Phenotypic similarity between tek and the TEK-SRDX transgenic lines suggest that TEK plays a role in transcriptional activation in anther development. Microarray analysis identified a total of 661 genes downregulated in tek, including four genes encoding AGPs, AGP6, AGP11, AGP23, and AGP40. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that TEK could directly bind the nuclear matrix attachment region (MAR) and the promoter of AGP6. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by PCR analysis demonstrated that TEK is enriched in the promoters of the four AGP genes. Expression of AGP6 driven by the TEK promoter in tek partially rescued both nexine formation and plant fertility. These results indicate that TEK directly regulates AGP expression in the anther to control nexine layer formation. We also proposed that glycoproteins might be essential components of the nexine layer in the pollen wall.