Overexpression of Zm401, an mRNA-like RNA, has distinct effects on pollen development in maize

Xiaoyan Dai, Jingjuan Yu, Jinxia Ma, Guangming Ao, Qian Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We previously identified a 0.7 Kb cDNA fragment of Zm401, a novel pollen-specific gene in maize (Zea mays). However, little information is known about the function of Zm401 in pollen development. The full-length of Zm401 cDNA was amplified by 5′ RACE and 3′ RACE and both sequence analysis and in vitro translation of Zm401 showed that it belonged to an mRNA-like non-coding gene. To analyze its possible biological roles in pollen development, the Zm401 cDNA was overexpressed in transgenic maize under the control of a pollen specific promoter Zm13 or a CaMV 35S promoter. RT-PCR and RNA gel blot analysis indicated that the expression level of Zm401 in leaves and anthers of transgenic plants was much higher than that of non-transformants. Compared with the non-transformed maize, transgenic maize showed distinct phenotypes, such as abnormal tassels and degenerate anthers. The histological observation showed that the development of pollen grains and anthers in transgenic plants were abnormal. These abnormalities include delayed degradation of tapetum, asynchronous fusion of pollen sacs, and aborted pollen grain development. Furthermore, the pollen viability in six transgenic plants ranged from 1.24% to 6.63%. The reduced pollen viability cosegregated with the transgene in a selfed progeny. These results suggest that Zm401 is involved in the regulation of pollen development. This article demonstrated Zm401, as a non-coding RNA, plays an essential role in pollen development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Growth Regulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Maize transformation
  • Non-coding RNA
  • Pollen
  • Zea mays
  • Zm401

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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