Overexpressing Vitamin C Defective 2 reduces fertility and alters Ca2+ signals in Arabidopsis pollen

Chrystle Weigand, Deborah Brady, James A. Davis, Tori Speicher, Jonathan Bacalso, Dylan Jones, Gad Miller, Won Gyu Choi, Jeffrey F. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A potential strategy to mitigate oxidative damage in plants is to increase the abundance of antioxidants, such as ascorbate (i.e. vitamin C). In Arabidopsis (A. thaliana), a rate-limiting step in ascorbate biosynthesis is a phosphorylase encoded by Vitamin C Defective 2 (VTC2). To specifically overexpress VTC2 (VTC2 OE) in pollen, the coding region was expressed using a promoter from a gene with ∼150-fold higher expression in pollen, leading to pollen grains with an eight-fold increased VTC2 mRNA. VTC2 OE resulted in a near-sterile phenotype with a 50-fold decrease in pollen transmission efficiency and a five-fold reduction in the number of seeds per silique. In vitro assays revealed pollen grains were more prone to bursting (greater than two-fold) or produced shorter, morphologically abnormal pollen tubes. The inclusion of a genetically encoded Ca2+ reporter, mCherry-GCaMP6fast (CGf), revealed pollen tubes with altered tip-focused Ca2+ dynamics and increased bursting frequency during periods of oscillatory and arrested growth. Despite these phenotypes, VTC2 OE pollen failed to show expected increases in ascorbate or reductions in reactive oxygen species, as measured using a redox-sensitive dye or a roGFP2. However, mRNA expression analyses revealed greater than two-fold reductions in mRNA encoding two enzymes critical to biosynthetic pathways related to cell walls or glyco-modifications of lipids and proteins: GDP-D-mannose pyrophosphorylase (GMP) and GDP-D-mannose 3′,5′ epimerase (GME). These results support a model in which the near-sterile defects resulting from VTC2 OE in pollen are associated with feedback mechanisms that can alter one or more signaling or metabolic pathways critical to pollen tube growth and fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2276-2287
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2023

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© American Society of Plant Biologists 2023. All rights reserved.


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