We have isolated and sequenced cDNAs for S2- and S3-alleles of the self-incompatibility locus (S-locus) in Solanum chacoense Bitt., a wild potato species displaying gametophytic self-incompatibility. The S2-and S3-alleles encode pistil-specific proteins of 30 kDa and 31 kDa, respectively, which were previously identified based on cosegregation with their respective alleles in genetic crosses. The amino acid sequence homology between the S2- and S3-proteins is 41.5%. This high degree of sequence variability between alleles is a distinctive feature of the S-gene system. Of the 31 amino acid residues which were previously found to be conserved among three Nicotiana alata S-proteins (S2, S3, and S6) and two fungal ribonucleases (R Nase T2 and R Nase Rh), 27 are also conserved in the S2- and S3-proteins of S. chacoense. These residues include two histidines implicated in the active site of the R Nase T2, six cysteines, four of which form disulfide bonds in R Nase T2, and hydrophobic residues which might form the core structure of the protein. The finding that these residues are conserved among S-proteins with very divergent sequences suggests a functional role for the ribonuclease activity of the S-protein in gametophytic self-incompatibility.
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