Self-incompatibility (SI) is a complex process, one out of several mechanisms that prevent plants from self-fertilizing to maintain and increase the genetic variability. This process leads to the rejection of the male gametophyte and requires the co-participation of numerous molecules. Plants have evolved two distinct SI systems, the sporophytic (SSI) and the gametophytic (GSI) systems. The two SI systems are markedly characterized by different genes and proteins and each single system can also be divided into distinct subgroups; whatever the mechanism, the purpose is the same, i.e., to prevent self-fertilization. In Malinae, a subtribe in the Rosaceae family, i.e., Pyrus communis
and Malus domestica
, the GSI requires the production of female determinants, known as S-RNases, which penetrate the pollen tube to interact with the male determinants. Beyond this, the penetration of S-RNase into the pollen tube triggers a series of responses involving membrane proteins, such as phospholipases, intracellular variations of cytoplasmic Ca2+
, production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and altered enzymatic activities, such as that of transglutaminase (TGase). TGases are widespread enzymes that catalyze the post-translational conjugation of polyamines (PAs) to different protein targets and/or the cross-linking of substrate proteins leading to the formation of cross-linked products with high molecular mass. When actin and tubulin are the substrates, this destabilizes the cytoskeleton and inhibits the pollen-tube’s growth process. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge of the relationship between S-RNase penetration, TGase activity and cytoskeleton function during GSI in the Malinae.
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