Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Self-incompatibility in Nicotiana alata involves degradation of pollen rRNA


GAMETOPHYTIC self-incompatibility is a genetically based system of cellular recognition in plants1. It prevents fertilization by pollen bearing an S-allele identical to either of the two S-alleles present in the female sporophytic tissues. Self-incompatibility in the Solanaceae has been especially well studied and several S-allele specific style glycoproteins identified2–6. In addition, complementary DNAs for nine style S-glycoproteins have been sequenced7–10 and have homology with two fungal ribonucleases. Recently five Nicotiana alata S-glycoproteins were shown to be RNases (S-RNases)11. We now report that S-allele specific degradation of pollen RNA occurs in vivo. After incompatible, but not after compatible pollinations, pollen RNA becomes degraded. This specificity cannot be demonstrated in vitro using isolated S-RNases and pollen RNAs. Our results support a model in which the gametophytic self-incompatibility system in N. alata acts through a cytotoxic mechanism directed against pollen RNA.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. de Nettancourt, D. in Monographs on Theoretical and Applied Genetics (eds Frankel, R., Gall, G. A. E. & Linskens, H. F.) (Springer, Berlin, 1977).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bredemeijer, G. M. M. & Blass, J. Theor. appl. Genet. 59, 185–190 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Jahnen, W. et al. The Plant Cell 1, 501–510 (1989).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Mau, S-L. et al. Planta 169, 184–191 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Kamboj, R. K. & Jackson, J. F. Theor. appl. Genet. 71, 815–819 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Xu, B. et al. Sexual Plant Reprod. 3, 54–60 (1990).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ai, Y. et al. Sexual Plant Reprod. (in the press).

  8. Kheyr-Pour, A. et al. Sexual Plant Reprod. (in the press).

  9. Anderson, M. A. et al. Nature 321, 38–44 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Anderson, M. A. et al. The Plant Cell 1, 483–491 (1989).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. McClure, B. A. et al. Nature 342, 955–957 (1989).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Endo, Y. & Wool, I. G. J. biol. Chem. 257, 9054–9060 (1982).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Mascarenhas, J. P. Bot. Ref. 41, 259–314 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Haring, V., McClure, B. A. & Clarke, A. E. in Advances in Plant Gene Research (ed. Dennis, E.) (Springer, Berlin, in the press).

  15. Koniski, J. A. Rev. Microbiol. 36, 125–144 (9182).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Stirpe, F. & Barbieri, L. FEBS Lett. 195, 1–8 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Endo, Y. et al. Biochem. biophys. Res. Commun. 150, 1032–1036 (1988).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Benner, S. A. FEBS Lett. 233, 225–228 (1988).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Maniatis, T., Fritsch, E. F. & Sambrook, J. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  20. Wilson, C. M. A. Rev. Pl. Physiol. 26, 187–208 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

McClure, B., Gray, J., Anderson, M. et al. Self-incompatibility in Nicotiana alata involves degradation of pollen rRNA. Nature 347, 757–760 (1990).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing