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Hamilton ES, Haswell ES. The tension-sensitive ion transport activity of MSL8 is critical for its function in pollen hydration and germination. Plant Cell Physiol. 2017;58(7):1222-1237. doi:10.1093/pcp/pcw230


All cells respond to osmotic challenges, including those imposed during normal growth and development. Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels provide a conserved mechanism for regulating osmotic forces by conducting ions in response to increased membrane tension. We previously demonstrated that the MS ion channel MscS-Like 8 (MSL8) is required for pollen to survive multiple osmotic challenges that occur during the normal process of fertilization, and that it can inhibit pollen germination. However, it remained unclear whether these physiological functions required ion flux through a mechanically gated channel provided by MSL8. We introduced two point mutations into the predicted pore-lining domain of MSL8 that disrupted normal channel function in different ways. The Ile711Ser mutation increased the tension threshold of the MSL8 channel while leaving conductance unchanged, and the Phe720Leu mutation severely disrupted the MSL8 channel. Both of these mutations impaired the ability of MSL8 to preserve pollen viability during hydration and to maintain the integrity of the pollen tube when expressed at endogenous levels. When overexpressed in an msl8-4 null background, MSL8I711S could partially rescue loss-of-function phenotypes, while MSL8F720L could not. When overexpressed in the wild-type Ler background, MSL8I711S suppressed pollen germination, similar to wild-type MSL8. In contrast, MSL8F720L failed to suppress pollen germination and increased pollen bursting, thereby phenocopying the msl8-4 mutant. Thus, an intact MSL8 channel is required for normal pollen function during hydration and germination. These data establish MSL8 as the first plant MS channel to fulfill previously established criteria for assignment as a mechanotransducer.


Final author manuscript version of article published in Plant Cell Physiol. 2017;58(7):1222-1237. doi:10.1093/pcp/pcw230

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