Biphasic regulation of the transcription factor ABORTED MICROSPORES (AMS) is essential for tapetum and pollen development in Arabidopsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Alison C Ferguson
  • Leah R Band
  • Caiyun Yang
  • Ivana Ferjentsikova
  • John King
  • Zheng Yuan
  • Dabing Zhang
  • Zoe A Wilson


Viable pollen is essential for plant reproduction and crop yield. Its production requires coordinated expression at specific stages during anther development, involving early meiosis-associated events and late pollen wall formation. The ABORTED MICROSPORES (AMS) transcription factor is a master regulator of sporopollenin biosynthesis, secretion and pollen wall formation in Arabidopsis. Here we show that it has complex regulation and additional essential roles earlier in pollen formation. An inducible-AMS reporter was created for functional rescue, protein expression pattern analysis, and to distinguish between direct and indirect targets. Mathematical modelling was used to create regulatory networks based on wild-type RNA and protein expression. Dual activity of AMS was defined by biphasic protein expression in anther tapetal cells, with an initial peak around pollen meiosis and then later during pollen wall development. Direct AMS-regulated targets exhibit temporal regulation, indicating that additional factors are associated with their regulation. We demonstrate that AMS biphasic expression is essential for pollen development, and defines distinct functional activities during early and late pollen development. Mathematical modelling suggests that AMS may competitively form a protein complex with other tapetum-expressed transcription factors, and that biphasic regulation is due to repression of upstream regulators and promotion of AMS protein degradation.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-790
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Early online date27 Oct 2016
StatePublished - Jan 2017