A novel RNA-recognition-motif protein is required for premeiotic G1/S-phase transition in rice (Oryza sativa L.).
The molecular mechanism for meiotic entry remains largely elusive in flowering plants. Only Arabidopsis SWI1/DYAD and maize AM1, both of which are the coiled-coil protein, are known to be required for the initiation of plant meiosis. The mechanism underlying the synchrony of male meiosis, characteristic to flowering plants, has also been unclear in the plant kingdom. In other eukaryotes, RNA-recognition-motif (RRM) proteins are known to play essential roles in germ-cell development and meiosis progression. Rice MEL2 protein discovered in this study shows partial similarity with human proline-rich RRM protein, deleted in Azoospermia-Associated Protein1 (DAZAP1), though MEL2 also possesses ankyrin repeats and a RING finger motif. Expression analyses of several cell-cycle markers revealed that, in mel2 mutant anthers, most germ cells failed to enter premeiotic S-phase and meiosis, and a part escaped from the defect and underwent meiosis with a significant delay or continued mitotic cycles. Immunofluorescent detection revealed that T7 peptide-tagged MEL2 localized at cytoplasmic perinuclear region of germ cells during premeiotic interphase in transgenic rice plants. This study is the first report of the plant RRM protein, which is required for regulating the premeiotic G1/S-phase transition of male and female germ cells and also establishing synchrony of male meiosis. This study will contribute to elucidation of similarities and diversities in reproduction system between plants and other species.