We present a sequence comparison of 12 S-allele-associated proteins from three solanaceous species with gametophytic self-incompatibility: Nicotiana alata, Petunia inflata, and Solanum chacoense. The allelic variants of the S-protein exhibit a very high degree of sequence diversity consistent with their function as recognition molecules. We identify 41 perfectly conserved residues, 18 of which are also conserved in two fungal ribonucleases, RNase T2 and RNase Rh. The residues conserved in both the S-proteins and the ribonucleases include two histidines essential for catalysis, four cysteines involved in disulfide bridges, and hydrophobic residues probably involved in the core structure of the proteins. This conservation between the two ribonucleases and the 12 divergent S-proteins confirms the previously recognized similarity between 3 more closely related N. alata S-proteins and these ribonucleases, and argues strongly for the functional importance of the ribonuclease activity of the S-protein in self-incompatibility. We also identify the 19 most variable residues, which are the prime candidates for the S-allele-specificity determinant. Twelve of these nineteen residues are clustered in two regions of hypervariability, designated HVa and HVb, which are also the most prominent hydrophilic regions of the S-protein. We suggest that these two regions might form parts of the putative pollen recognition site. Identification of these structural features forms a foundation for the study of the molecular basis of self-recognition and the biochemical mechanism of inhibition of self-pollen tube growth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science
- Cell Biology