Phosphorylation of SPOROCYTELESS/NOZZLE by the MPK3/6 kinase is required for anther development

Feng Zhao, Ya Feng Zheng, Ting Zeng, Rui Sun, Ji Yuan Yang, Yuan Li, Dong Tao Ren, Hong Ma, Zhi Hong Xu, Shu Nong Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Germ cells are indispensable carriers of genetic information from one generation to the next. In contrast to the well-understood process in animals, information on the mechanism of germ cell initiation in plants is very limited. SPOROCYTELESS/NOZZLE was previously identified as an essential regulator of diploid germ cell (archesporial cell) differentiation in the stamens and ovules of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Although SPOROCYTELESS (SPL) transcription is activated by the floral organ identity regulator AGAMOUS and epigenetically regulated by SET DOMAIN GROUP2, little is known about the regulation of the SPL protein. Here, we report that the protein kinases MPK3 and MPK6 can both interact with SPL in vitro and in vivo and can phosphorylate the SPL protein in vitro. In addition, phosphorylation of the SPL protein by MPK3/6 is required for SPL function in the Arabidopsis anther, as measured by its effect on archesporial cell differentiation. We further demonstrate that phosphorylation enhances SPL protein stability. This work not only uncovers the importance of SPL phosphorylation for its regulatory role in Arabidopsis anther development, but also supports the hypothesis that the regulation of precise spatiotemporal patterning of germ cell initiation and that differentiation is achieved progressively through multiple levels of regulation, including transcriptional and posttranslational modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2265-2277
Number of pages13
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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