Letter | Published:

A receptor heteromer mediates the male perception of female attractants in plants

Nature volume 531, pages 241244 (10 March 2016) | Download Citation

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 11 May 2016


Sexual reproduction requires recognition between the male and female gametes. In flowering plants, the immobile sperms are delivered to the ovule-enclosed female gametophyte by guided pollen tube growth. Although the female gametophyte-secreted peptides have been identified to be the chemotactic attractant to the pollen tube1,2,3, the male receptor(s) is still unknown. Here we identify a cell-surface receptor heteromer, MDIS1–MIK, on the pollen tube that perceives female attractant LURE1 in Arabidopsis thaliana. MDIS1, MIK1 and MIK2 are plasma-membrane-localized receptor-like kinases with extracellular leucine-rich repeats and an intracellular kinase domain. LURE1 specifically binds the extracellular domains of MDIS1, MIK1 and MIK2, whereas mdis1 and mik1 mik2 mutant pollen tubes respond less sensitively to LURE1. Furthermore, LURE1 triggers dimerization of the receptors and activates the kinase activity of MIK1. Importantly, transformation of AtMDIS1 to the sister species Capsella rubella can partially break down the reproductive isolation barrier. Our findings reveal a new mechanism of the male perception of the female attracting signals.

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We thank L. Qu for technique assistance in the pollen tube guidance assay. We thank Y. Guo, Quantum Design Inc. China, and core facilities of public technology service centre of Institute of Microbiology and Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (Chinese Academy of Sciences) for the MST measurement. We thank J. Zhou and Q. Xie for sharing seeds. This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China grants 2013CB945103 to W.-C.Y. and 2015CB910202 to H.-J.L. and the National Natural Science Foundation of China 31330053 and 31221063 to W.-C.Y.

Author information


  1. State Key Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

    • Tong Wang
    • , Liang Liang
    • , Yong Xue
    • , Peng-Fei Jia
    • , Wei Chen
    • , Meng-Xia Zhang
    • , Ying-Chun Wang
    • , Hong-Ju Li
    •  & Wei-Cai Yang
  2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

    • Tong Wang
    • , Liang Liang
    • , Yong Xue
    • , Wei Chen
    •  & Meng-Xia Zhang


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H.-J.L. and W.-C.Y. designed the study, interpreted the results and wrote the paper. T.W. performed most of the experiments. L.L. performed the guidance assay. Y.X. performed the mutants screening. M.-X.Z. performed the LURE1 construction. P.-F.J. performed the cell biology analysis and W.C. performed the qPCR experiments. Y.-C.W. performed mass spectrometry analysis.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Hong-Ju Li or Wei-Cai Yang.

Extended data

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  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains full blots of the gels.


  1. 1.

    Video 1: Fluorescence dynamics of MDIS1-GFP in the pollen tube

    This video shows the time-lapse imaging of the dynamic localization of MDIS1-GFP in the pollen tube.

  2. 2.

    Video 2: Fluorescence dynamics of MDIS2-GFP in the pollen tube

    This video shows the time-lapse imaging of the dynamic localization of MDIS2-GFP in the pollen tube.

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