Many Prunus species, including sweet cherry and Japanese apricot, of the Rosaceae, display an S-RNase-based gametophytic self-incompatibility (GSI). The specificity of this outcrossing mechanism is determined by a minimum of two genes that are located in a multigene complex, termed the S locus, which controls the pistil and pollen specificities. SFB, a gene located in the S locus region, encodes an F-box protein that has appropriate S haplotype-specific variation to be the pollen determinant in the self-incompatibility reaction. This study characterizes SFBs of two self-compatible (SC) haplotypes, S 4′ and Sf, of Prunus. S4′ of sweet cherry is a pollen-part mutant (PPM) that was produced by X-ray irradiation, while Sf of Japanese apricot is a naturally occurring SC haplotype that is considered to be a PPM. DNA sequence analysis revealed defects in both SFB4′ and SFBf. A 4 bp deletion upstream from the HVa coding region of SFB4′ causes a frame-shift that produces transcripts of a defective SFB lacking the two hypervariable regions, HVa and HVb. Similarly, the presence of a 6.8 kbp insertion in the middle of the SFBf coding region leads to transcripts for a defective SFB lacking the C-terminal half that contains HVa and HVb. As all reported SFBs of functional S haplotypes encode intact SFB, the fact that the partial loss-of-function mutations in SFB are present in SC mutant haplotypes of Prunus provides additional evidence that SFB is the pollen S gene in GSI in Prunus.
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