The current pace of crop plant optimization is insufficient to meet future demands and there is an urgent need for novel breeding strategies. It was previously shown that plants tolerate the generation of triparental polyspermy-derived plants and that polyspermy can bypass hybridization barriers. Polyspermy thus has the potential to harness previously incompatible climate adapted wild varieties for plant breeding. However, factors that influence polyspermy frequencies were not previously known. The endopeptidases ECS1 and ECS2 have been reported to prevent the attraction of supernumerary pollen tubes by cleaving the pollen tube attractant LURE1. Here we show that these genes have an earlier function that is manifested by incomplete double fertilization in plants defective for both genes. In addition to supernumerary pollen tube attraction, ecs1 ecs2 mutants exhibit a delay in synergid disintegration, are susceptible to heterofertilization, and segregate haploid plants that lack a paternal genome contribution. Our results thus uncover ECS1 and ECS2 as the first female factors triggering the induction of maternal haploids. Capitalizing on a high-throughput polyspermy assay, we in addition show that the double mutant exhibits a three-fold increase in polyspermy frequencies. As both haploid induction and polyspermy are valuable breeding aims, our results open new avenues for accelerated generation of climate adapted cultivars.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file.
- Rita Groß-Hardt
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Hao Yu, National University of Singapore & Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore
© 2023, Mao et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Imaging experiments reveal the complex and dynamic nature of the transcriptional hubs associated with Notch signaling.
Cylicins are testis-specific proteins, which are exclusively expressed during spermiogenesis. In mice and humans, two Cylicins, the gonosomal X-linked Cylicin 1 (Cylc1/CYLC1) and the autosomal Cylicin 2 (Cylc2/CYLC2) genes, have been identified. Cylicins are cytoskeletal proteins with an overall positive charge due to lysine-rich repeats. While Cylicins have been localized in the acrosomal region of round spermatids, they resemble a major component of the calyx within the perinuclear theca at the posterior part of mature sperm nuclei. However, the role of Cylicins during spermiogenesis has not yet been investigated. Here, we applied CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in zygotes to establish Cylc1- and Cylc2-deficient mouse lines as a model to study the function of these proteins. Cylc1 deficiency resulted in male subfertility, whereas Cylc2-/-, Cylc1-/yCylc2+/-, and Cylc1-/yCylc2-/- males were infertile. Phenotypical characterization revealed that loss of Cylicins prevents proper calyx assembly during spermiogenesis. This results in decreased epididymal sperm counts, impaired shedding of excess cytoplasm, and severe structural malformations, ultimately resulting in impaired sperm motility. Furthermore, exome sequencing identified an infertile man with a hemizygous variant in CYLC1 and a heterozygous variant in CYLC2, displaying morphological abnormalities of the sperm including the absence of the acrosome. Thus, our study highlights the relevance and importance of Cylicins for spermiogenic remodeling and male fertility in human and mouse, and provides the basis for further studies on unraveling the complex molecular interactions between perinuclear theca proteins required during spermiogenesis.