Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 415–430 | Cite as

Silencing of an Anther-specific Zinc-finger Gene, MEZ1, Causes Aberrant Meiosis and Pollen Abortion in Petunia



MEZ1 (MEiosis-associated Zinc-finger protein 1) was first isolated as an anther-specific cDNA from Petunia hybrida. In the present study, we report its functional characterization, including its spatial and temporal expression profiles and phenotypes in MEZ1-silenced plants. MEZ1 transcripts were specifically localized in pollen mother cells during early stages of anther development, and were later distributed in vegetative tissues in anthers. Silencing of MEZ1 by cosuppression resulted in several anomalies during male meiosis that included inability of chromosomes to condense, loss of meiotic synchrony, and premature and apparently uncontrolled cytokinetic events. Consequently, by the end of meiosis 8–10 cells, instead of the normal 4, with varying DNA contents were formed in the MEZ1-silenced meiocytes. Most of these aborted prematurely, and those that matured had a distinctive morphology. MEZ1-silenced plants were female sterile when pollinated with wild-type pollen but they infrequently produced a few seeds upon self-pollination. Resulting T1 plants had increased ploidy levels and exhibited severe anomalies during male meiosis, rendering them completely sterile. We discuss possible role of MEZ1 in the proper progression of plant meiosis.


male sterile meiosis petunia ploidy transcription factor zinc-finger 





bud length


cauliflower mosaic virus


days after pollination




MEiosis-associated Zinc-finger protein 1




nuclear localization signal


pollen mother cell








Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brown, R.C., Lemmon, B.E. 1988Microtubules associated with simultaneous cytokinesis of coenocytic microsporocytesAm. J. Bot.7518481856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown, R.C., Lemmon, B.E. 2001The cytoskeleton and spatial control of cytokinesis in the plant life cycleProtoplasma2153549PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bushell, C., Spielman, M., Scott, R.J. 2003The basis of natural and artificial postzygotic hybridization barriers in Arabidopsis speciesPlant Cell1514301442PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Byzova, M.V., Franken, J., Aarts, M.G., Almeida-Engler, J., Engler, G., Mariani, C., Lookeren Campagne, M.M., Angenent, G.C. 1999ArabidopsisSTERILE APETALA, a multifunctional gene regulating inflorescence, flower, and ovule developmentGenes Dev.1310021014PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Canales, C., Bhatt, A.M., Scott, R., Dickinson, H. 2002EXS, a putative LRR receptor kinase, regulates male germline cell number and tapetal identity and promotes seed development in ArabidopsisCurr. Biol.1217181727PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Comai, L., Tyagi, A.P., Winter, K., Holmes-Davis, R., Reynolds, S.H., Stevens, Y., Byers, B. 2000Phenotypic instability and rapid gene silencing in newly formed arabidopsis allotetraploidsPlant Cell1215511568PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Echlin, P., Godwin, H. 1968The ultrastructure and ontogeny of pollen in Helleborus foetidus L. II. Pollen grain development through the callose special wall stageJ Cell Sci3175186PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Foiani, M., Capone, R., Nadjar-Boger, E., Sagee, S., Hashimshoni, T., Kassir, Y. 1996A meiosis-specific protein kinase, Ime2, is required for the correct timing of DNA replication and for spore formation in yeast meiosisMol. Gen. Genet.293278288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Golubovskaya, I., Avalkina, N., Sheridan, W.F. 1997New insights into the role of the maize ameiotic1 locusGenetics14713391350PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hirano, T. 2002The ABCs of SMC proteins: two-armed ATPases for chromosome condensation, cohesion, and repairGenes Dev.16399414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hirano, T., Kobayashi, R., Hirano, M. 1997Condensins, chromosome condensation protein complexes containing XCAP-C, XCAP-E and a Xenopus homolog of the Drosophila Barren proteinCell89511521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jiang, C.J., Shoji, K., Matsuki, R., Baba, A., Inagaki, N., Ban, H., Iwasaki, T., Imamoto, N., Yoneda, Y., Deng, X.W., Yamamoto, N. 2001Molecular cloning of a␣novel importin alpha homologue from rice, by which constitutive photomorphogenic 1 (COP1) nuclear localization signal (NLS)-protein is preferentially nuclear importedJ. Biol. Chem.27693229329PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Johnston, S.A., Nijs, T.P.M., Peloquin, S.J., Hanneman, J.R.E. 1980The significance of genic balance to endosperm development in interspecific crossesTheor. Appl. Genet.5759Google Scholar
  14. Johnston, S.A., Hanneman, R.E. 1982Manipulations of endosperm balance number overcome crossing barriers between diploid Solanum speciesScience217446448Google Scholar
  15. Jorgensen, R.A., Cluster, P.D., English, J., Que, Q., Napoli, C.A. 1996Chalcone synthase cosuppression phenotypes in petunia flowers: comparison of sense vs. antisense constructs and single-copy vs. complex T-DNA sequencesPlant Mol. Biol.31957973PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kapoor, S., Kobayashi, A., Takatsuji, H. 2002Silencing of the tapetum-specific zinc finger gene TAZ1 causes premature degeneration of tapetum and pollen abortion in petuniaPlant Cell1423532367PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kimura, K., Hirano, T. 2000Dual roles of the 11S regulatory subcomplex in condensin functionsProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA971197211977PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kobayashi, A., Sakamoto, A., Kubo, K., Rybka, Z., Kanno, Y., Takatsuji, H. 1998Seven zinc-finger transcription factors are expressed sequentially during the development of anthers in petuniaPlant J.13571576PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kubo, K., Kanno, Y., Nishino, T., Takatsuji, H. 2000Zinc-finger genes that specifically express in pistil secretory tissues of petuniaPlant Cell Physiol.41377382PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Logemann, J., Schell, J., Willmitzer, L. 1987Improved method for the isolation of RNA from plant tissuesAnal. Biochem.1631620PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mackay, J.P., Crossley, M. 1998Zinc fingers are sticking togetherTrends Biochem. Sci.2314PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mercier, R., Armstrong, S.J., Horlow, C., Jackson, N.P., Makaroff, C.A., Vezon, D., Pelletier, G., Jones, G.H., Franklin, F.C. 2003The meiotic protein SWI1 is required for axial element formation and recombination initiation in ArabidopsisDevelopment13033093318PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mercier, R., Vezon, D., Bullier, E., Motamayor, J.C., Sellier, A., Lefevre, F., Pelletier, G., Horlow, C. 2001SWITCH1 (SWI1): a novel protein required for the establishment of sister chromatid cohesion and for bivalent formation at meiosisGenes Dev.1518591871PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mitchell, A.P., Driscoll, S.E., Smith, H.E. 1990Positive control of sporulation-specific genes by the IME1 and IME2 products in Saccharomyces cerevisiaeMol. Cell. Biol.1021042110PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Otegui, M., Staehelin, L.A. 2000Cytokinesis in flowering plants: more than one way to divide a cellCurr. Opin. Plant Biol.3493502PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Page, S.L., Hawley, R.S. 2003Chromosome choreography: the meiotic balletScience301785789PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ross, K.J., Fransz, P., Jones, G.H. 1996A light microscopic atlas of meiosis in Arabidopsis thalianaChromosome Res.4507516PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ruzin, S.E. 1999Plant Microtechnique and MicroscopyOxford University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Scott, R.J., Spielman, M., Bailey, J., Dickinson, H.G. 1998Parent-of-origin effects on seed development in Arabidopsis thalianaDevelopment12533293341PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Siddiqui, N.U., Stronghill, P.E., Dengler, R.E., Hasenkampf, C.A., Riggs, C.D. 2003Mutations in Arabidopsis condensin genes disrupt embryogenesis, meristem organization and segregation of homologous chromosomes during meiosisDevelopment13032833295PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stieglitz, H. 1977Role of beta-1,3-glucanase in postmeiotic microspore releaseDev. Biol.578797PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Takatsuji, H. 1999Zinc-finger proteins: the classical zinc finger emerges in contemporary plant sciencePlant Mol. Biol.3910731078PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Takatsuji, H., Nakamura, N., Katsumoto, Y. 1994A new family of zinc finger proteins in Petunia: structure, DNA sequence recognition, and floral organ-specific expressionPlant Cell6947958PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Engelen, F.A., Molthoff, J.W., Conner, A.J., Nap, J.P., Pereira, A., Stiekema, W.J. 1995pBINPLUS: an improved plant transformation vector based on pBIN19Transgenic Res.4288290PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yang, W.C., Sundaresan, V. 2000Genetics of gametophyte biogenesis in ArabidopsisCurr. Opin. Plant Biol.35357PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yang, S.-L., Xie, L.-F., Mao, H.-Z., Puah, C.S., Yang, W.-C., Jiang, L., Sundaresan, V., Ye, D. 2003TAPETUM DETERMINANT1 is required for cell specialization in the Arabidopsis antherPlant Cell1527922804PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yang, W.C., Ye, D., Xu, J., Sundaresan, V. 1999The SPOROCYTELESS gene of Arabidopsis is required for initiation of sporogenesis and encodes a novel nuclear proteinGenes Dev.1321082117PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhao, D.-Z., Wang, G.-F., Speal, B., Ma, H. 2002The EXCESS MICROSPOROCYTES1 gene encodes a putative leucine-rich repeat receptor protein kinase that controls somatic and reproductive cell fates in the Arabidopsis antherGenes Dev.1620212031PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Developmental Biology Laboratory, Plant Physiology DepartmentNational Institute of Agrobiological SciencesTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Plant Molecular BiologyUniversity of Delhi South CampusNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations