Rab geranylgeranyl transferase β subunit is essential for male fertility and tip growth in Arabidopsis

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Rab proteins, key players in vesicular transport in all eukaryotic cells, are post-translationally modified by lipid moieties. Two geranylgeranyl groups are attached to the Rab protein by the heterodimeric enzyme Rab geranylgeranyl transferase (RGT) αβ. Partial impairment in this enzyme activity in Arabidopsis, by disruption of the AtRGTB1 gene, is known to influence plant stature and disturb gravitropic and light responses. Here it is shown that mutations in each of the RGTB genes cause a tip growth defect, visible as root hair and pollen tube deformations. Moreover, FM 1–43 styryl dye endocytosis and recycling are affected in the mutant root hairs. Finally, it is demonstrated that the double mutant, with both AtRGTB genes disrupted, is non-viable due to absolute male sterility. Doubly mutated pollen is shrunken, has an abnormal exine structure, and shows strong disorganization of internal membranes, particularly of the endoplasmic reticulum system.

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