Kubo, K., Entani, T., Takara, A., Wang, N., Fields, A.M., Hua, Z., Toyoda, M., Kawashima, S., Ando, T., Isogai, A., Kao, T.H., and Takayama, S.

Science 330, 796-799


Self-incompatibility in flowering plants prevents inbreeding and promotes outcrossing to generate genetic diversity. In Solanaceae, a multiallelic gene, S-locus F-box (SLF), was previously shown to encode the pollen determinant in self-incompatibility. It was postulated that an SLF allelic product specifically detoxifies its non-self S-ribonucleases (S-RNases), allelic products of the pistil determinant, inside pollen tubes via the ubiquitin–26S-proteasome system, thereby allowing compatible pollinations. However, it remained puzzling how SLF, with much lower allelic sequence diversity than S-RNase, might have the capacity to recognize a large repertoire of non-self S-RNases. We used in vivo functional assays and protein interaction assays to show that in Petunia, at least three types of divergent SLF proteins function as the pollen determinant, each recognizing a subset of non-self S-RNases. Our findings reveal a collaborative non-self recognition system in plants.