An extracellular form of the calcium-dependent protein-cross-linking enzyme TGase (transglutaminase) was demonstrated to be involved in the apical growth of Malus domestica pollen tube. Apple pollen TGase and its substrates were co-localized within aggregates on the pollen tube surface, as determined by indirect immunofluorescence staining and the in situ cross-linking of fluorescently labelled substrates. TGase-specific inhibitors and an anti-TGase monoclonal antibody blocked pollen tube growth, whereas incorporation of a recombinant fluorescent mammalian TGase substrate (histidine-tagged green fluorescent protein: His6–Xpr–GFP) into the growing tube wall enhanced tube length and germination, consistent with a role of TGase as a modulator of cell wall building and strengthening. The secreted pollen TGase catalysed the cross-linking of both PAs (polyamines) into proteins (released by the pollen tube) and His6-Xpr-GFP into endogenous or exogenously added substrates. A similar distribution of TGase activity was observed in planta on pollen tubes germinating inside the style, consistent with a possible additional role for TGase in the interaction between the pollen tube and the style during fertilization.

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