Self-incompatibility (SI) is defined as the inability to produce zygotes after self-pollination in a fertile hermaphrodite plant, which has stamens and pistils in the same flower. This structural organization of the hermaphrodite flower increases the risk of self-pollination, leading to low genetic diversity. To avoid this problem plants have established several pollination systems, among which the most elegant system is surely SI. The SI trait can be observed in Brassica crops, including cabbage, broccoli, turnip and radish. To produce hybrid seed of these crops efficiently, the SI trait has been employed in an agricultural context. From another point of view, the recognition reaction of SI during pollen-stigma interaction is an excellent model system for cell-cell communication and signal transduction in higher plants. In this review, we describe the molecular mechanisms of SI in Brassicaceae, which have been dissected by genetic, physiological, and biological approaches, and we discuss the future prospects in relation to associated scientific fields and new technologies.
By using “our devised up-to-the-second technique” over 30 years ago, we succeeded in the first isolation in the world of the three different kinds of mammalian cell mutants defective in the biosynthesis on each of phosphatidylserine (PS), cardiolipin (CL) and sphingomyelin (SM) from the parental CHO cells. As the results, we found that during the biosyntheses of PS and SM, the biosynthetic precursor or the final lipids are transported from their synthesized intracellular organelles to the plasma membranes via the other intracellular organelles. We further clarified the presence of the reversed routes for PS and SM from the plasma membranes to their synthesized organelles too. Our first epoch-making finding is not only the cycling inter-conversion reactions between PS and PE catalyzed by PSS-II and PSD but also their simultaneous transferring between MAM and Mit (found by O. Kuge). Our second finding is “the ceramide-trafficking protein (CERT)” working as the specific transfer protein of ceramide from the ER to the Golgi apparatus, during the SM biosynthesis (by K. Hanada). As for their new biological roles, we clarified possible contribution of PS and/or PE to the fusion process between viral envelope and endosomal membrane, releasing the genetic information of the virus to the host cytoplasm. CL is contributing to the functional NADH-ubiquinone reductase activity by keeping the right structure of Coenzyme Q9 for its functioning. SM and cholesterol form the microdomain within the plasma membrane, so-called “the raft structure” where the GPI-anchored proteins are specifically located for their functioning.
Analysis of lipid storage in postmortem brains of patients with amaurotic idiocy led to the recognition of five lysosomal ganglioside storage diseases and identification of their inherited metabolic blocks. Purification of lysosomal acid sphingomyelinase and ceramidase and analysis of their gene structures were the prerequisites for the clarification of Niemann-Pick and Farber disease. For lipid catabolism, intraendosomal vesicles are formed during the endocytotic pathway. They are subjected to lipid sorting processes and were identified as luminal platforms for cellular lipid and membrane degradation. Lipid binding glycoproteins solubilize lipids from these cholesterol poor membranes and present them to water-soluble hydrolases for digestion. Biosynthesis and intracellular trafficking of lysosomal hydrolases (hexosaminidases, acid sphingomyelinase and ceramidase) and lipid binding and transfer proteins (GM2 activator, saposins) were analyzed to identify the molecular and metabolic basis of several sphingolipidoses. Studies on the biosynthesis of glycosphingolipids yielded the scheme of Combinatorial Ganglioside Biosynthesis involving promiscuous glycosyltransferases. Their defects in mutagenized mice impair brain development and function.
Hairs are known as a sensory apparatus for touch. Their follicles are innervated predominantly by palisade endings composed of longitudinal and circumferential lanceolate endings. However, little is known as to how their original primary neurons make up a part of the ending. In this study, innervation of the palisade endings was investigated in the auricular skin of thy1-YFP transgenic mouse. Major observations were 1) Only a small portion of PGP9.5-immunopositive axons showed YFP-positivity, 2) All of thy1-YFP-positive sensory axons were thick and myelinated, 3) Individual thy1-YFP-positive trunk axons innervated 4–54 hair follicles, 4) Most palisade endings had a gap of lanceolate ending arrangement, 5) PGP9.5-immunopositive 10–32 longitudinal lanceolate endings were closely arranged. Only a part of them were thy1-YFP-positive axons that originated from 1–3 afferents, and 6) Single nerve bundles of the dermal nerve network included both bidirectional afferents. Palisade endings innervated by multiple sensory neurons might be highly sensitive to hair movement.