Phospholipases cleave phospholipids, major membrane constituents. They are thus essential for many developmental processes, including male gamete development. In flowering plants, mutation of phospholipase NOT-LIKE-DAD (NLD, also known as MTL or ZmPLA1) leads to peculiar defects in sexual reproduction, notably the induction of maternal haploid embryos. Contrary to previous reports, NLD does not localize to cytosol and plasma membrane of sperm cells but to the pollen endo-plasma membrane (endo-PM), a specific membrane derived from the PM of the pollen vegetative cell that encircles the two sperm cells. After pollen tube burst, NLD localizes at the apical region of the egg apparatus. Pharmacological approaches coupled with targeted mutagenesis revealed that lipid anchoring together with electrostatic interactions are involved in the attachment of NLD to this atypical endo-PM. Membrane surface-charge and lipid biosensors indicated that phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate is enriched in the endo-PM, uncovering a unique example of how membrane electrostatic properties can define a specific polar domain (i.e., endo-PM), which is critical for plant reproduction and gamete formation.

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