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Downregulation of the auxin transporter gene SlPIN8 results in pollen abortion in tomato

Gan, Zengyu, Feng, Yi, Wu, Ting, Wang, Yi, Xu, Xuefeng, Zhang, Xinzhong, Han, Zhenhai
Plant molecular biology 2019 v.99 no.6 pp. 561-573
RNA interference, Solanum lycopersicum var. lycopersicum, abortion (plants), anthers, beta-glucuronidase, endoplasmic reticulum, females, fruits, gametophytes, gene expression, genes, homeostasis, indole acetic acid, messenger RNA, pollen, protoplasts, tomatoes, transgenic plants, transport proteins, vegetative growth, viability
KEY MESSAGE: SlPIN8 is expressed specifically within tomato pollen, and that it is involved in tomato pollen development and intracellular auxin homeostasis. The auxin (IAA) transport protein PIN-FORMED (PIN) plays key roles in various aspects of plant development. The biological role of the auxin transporter SlPIN8 in tomato development remains unclear. Here, we examined the expression pattern of the SlPIN8 gene in vegetative and reproductive organs of tomato. RNA interference (RNAi) transgenic lines specifically silenced for the SlPIN8 gene were generated to identify the role of SlPIN8 in pollen development. We found that SlPIN8 mRNA is expressed specifically within tomato pollen. In the anthers, the highest mRNA expression and β-glucuronidase (GUS) activity of promoter-SlPIN8-GUS was detected during late stages of anther development, when pollen maturation occurred. The downregulation of SlPIN8 did not drastically affect the vegetative growth of tomato. However, in SlPIN8-RNAi transgenic plants, approximately 80% of the pollen grains were identified to be abnormal and lack viability; they were shriveled and flattened. Furthermore, the downregulation of SlPIN8 affected the gene expression of some anther development-specific proteins. SlPIN8-RNAi transgenic plants induced seedless fruits because of defective pollen function rather than defective female gametophyte function. In addition, SlPIN8 was found to localize to the endoplasmic reticulum, consistent with the changes in the auxin levels of SlPIN8-RNAi lines, whereas the level of free IAA was increased in SlPIN8-overexpressing protoplasts, indicating that SlPIN8 is involved in intracellular auxin homeostasis.