RNA Silencing of Exocyst Genes in the Stigma Impairs the Acceptance of Compatible Pollen in Arabidopsis

Safavian D, Zayed Y, Indriolo E, Chapman L, Ahmed A, Goring DR

Plant Physiol. 2015 Dec;169(4):2526-38

PMID: 26443677


Initial pollen-pistil interactions in the Brassicaceae are regulated by rapid communication between pollen grains and stigmatic papillae and are fundamentally important, as they are the first step toward successful fertilization. The goal of this study was to examine the requirement of exocyst subunits, which function in docking secretory vesicles to sites of polarized secretion, in the context of pollen-pistil interactions. One of the exocyst subunit genes, EXO70A1, was previously identified as an essential factor in the stigma for the acceptance of compatible pollen in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and Brassica napus. We hypothesized that EXO70A1, along with other exocyst subunits, functions in the Brassicaceae dry stigma to deliver cargo-bearing secretory vesicles to the stigmatic papillar plasma membrane, under the pollen attachment site, for pollen hydration and pollen tube entry. Here, we investigated the functions of exocyst complex genes encoding the remaining seven subunits, SECRETORY3 (SEC3), SEC5, SEC6, SEC8, SEC10, SEC15, and EXO84, in Arabidopsis stigmas following compatible pollinations. Stigma-specific RNA-silencing constructs were used to suppress the expression of each exocyst subunit individually. The early postpollination stages of pollen grain adhesion, pollen hydration, pollen tube penetration, seed set, and overall fertility were analyzed in the transgenic lines to evaluate the requirement of each exocyst subunit. Our findings provide comprehensive evidence that all eight exocyst subunits are necessary in the stigma for the acceptance of compatible pollen. Thus, this work implicates a fully functional exocyst complex as a component of the compatible pollen response pathway to promote pollen acceptance.

Advanced In vivo Use of CRISPR/Cas9 and Anti-sense DNA Inhibition for Gene Manipulation in the Brain

Walters BJ, Azam AB, Gillon CJ, Josselyn SA, Zovkic IB

Front Genet 2015;6:362

PMID: 26793235


Gene editing tools are essential for uncovering how genes mediate normal brain-behavior relationships and contribute to neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. Recent progress in gene editing technology now allows neuroscientists unprecedented access to edit the genome efficiently. Although many important tools have been developed, here we focus on approaches that allow for rapid gene editing in the adult nervous system, particularly CRISPR/Cas9 and anti-sense nucleotide-based techniques. CRISPR/Cas9 is a flexible gene editing tool, allowing the genome to be manipulated in diverse ways. For instance, CRISPR/Cas9 has been successfully used to knockout genes, knock-in mutations, overexpress or inhibit gene activity, and provide scaffolding for recruiting specific epigenetic regulators to individual genes and gene regions. Moreover, the CRISPR/Cas9 system may be modified to target multiple genes at one time, affording simultaneous inhibition and overexpression of distinct genetic targets. Although many of the more advanced applications of CRISPR/Cas9 have not been applied to the nervous system, the toolbox is widely accessible, such that it is poised to help advance neuroscience. Anti-sense nucleotide-based technologies can be used to rapidly knockdown genes in the brain. The main advantage of anti-sense based tools is their simplicity, allowing for rapid gene delivery with minimal technical expertise. Here, we describe the main applications and functions of each of these systems with an emphasis on their many potential applications in neuroscience laboratories.