Scientists have discovered the molecular mechanism of the sterile anthers of Taigu nuclear sterile wheat

Ms2 reduces ROS signal accumulation during wheat anther and tissue regeneration. Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Molecular mechanism of taigu nuclear sterile wheat anther failure. Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Recently, the innovation team of wheat gene resources excavation and utilization of wheat gene resources of the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences found that the Ms2 protein expressed by the activation of transcriptional level inhibits the activity of TaRomo1 protein by promoting the polymerization of TaRomo1 protein, thereby specifically reducing the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling in Taigu nuclear sterile wheat anthers, which ultimately leads to the failure of Taigu nuclear sterile wheat anthers in early development. The research paper was published online in Molecular Plant.

According to Sun Jianjian, a researcher at the institute, the wheat Taigu nuclear sterile gene Ms2 is an excellent and precious wheat genetic resource in China, which has created huge economic benefits. Taigu nuclear sterile wheat is the whole anther in the early stage of development to stop the development process, so its male sterility is more thorough.

In 2017, a study by Jia Jizeng and Xiuying Kong, a researcher at the Institute of Science and Technology, published in Nature Communications, found that a transposon jump made the originally unexpressed Ms2 gene specifically activate the expression in the stamens of Taigu nuclear sterile wheat. However, the molecular mechanism of how activating the expression of Ms2 proteins leads to the defeat of Taigu nuclear sterile wheat anthers is unclear.

The researchers created the ms2 mutant in the context of Yanzhan No. 1 of the wheat variety and detected the dynamic change of ROS levels of anthers at different developmental stages with the control plants. The results showed that the active expression of Ms2 protein significantly reduced the level of ROS accumulation during the anther and tissue culture regeneration of Taigu nucleus sterile wheat, resulting in anther failure and inhibition of tissue regeneration.

Further studies have shown that the actively expressed Ms2 protein in Taigu nuclear sterile wheat is localized in the mitochondria and can physically interact with TaRomo1 to inhibit its multimer formation. Mutations at the key sites of this protein can disrupt the physical interaction between Ms2 and TaRomo1, thereby restoring the sterile phenotype of ms2 mutants.

The study revealed the molecular basis for the anther-specific activation of expressed Ms2 proteins that led to the sterilization of anthers in taigu nuclear sterile wheat, and discovered a new mechanism for Ms2’s involvement in regulating plant developmental signal ROS.

Sun Jianjian and Kong Xiuying are the corresponding authors of the article, associate researcher Liu Jie (currently an associate professor at China Agricultural University) and associate researcher Xia Chuan are co-first authors. The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Key Research and Development Program, the Special Project of Basic Scientific Research Business Expenses of Central Public Welfare Research Institutes, and the Scientific and Technological Innovation and Talent Project of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. (Source: China Science Daily, Li Chen, Wei Fei)

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