Adjunct Professor Emerita
Ph.D. Genetics University of Missouri-Columbia, 1978
B.S. Biology Illinois State University, 1973
We studied plant reproduction using biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology, in 3 projects: 1) Pollen tube growth: we characterized signal transduction pathways mediated through pollen-specific receptor kinases; 2) Pollen development and function: we characterized mutations that affect transmission through the male parent; and 3) Gamete biology: we characterized sperm-, egg-, or embryo sac-expressed genes that may play roles in pollen tube guidance, gamete recognition or fusion.
Pollen Tube Growth
We studied pollen-specific receptor kinases and how they perceive and transduce signals for pollen tube growth. We used yeast two hybrid screens to identify potential ligands; these include LAT52 and LeSHY, pollen proteins, and LeSTIG1, a stigma-specific protein. We think that the receptor kinases interact with different ligands during different phases of pollen tube growth. We also used yeast two hybrid screens to identify cytoplasmic partners for these receptor kinases; one partner, called KPP, is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rops. Rops are small GTPases. Thus our work provides a link from receptor kinases to the Rop-mediated cytoplasmic dynamics that are needed for pollen tube growth.
Pollen tubes (stained with decolorized aniline blue) growing through a tomato style.
Pollen Development and Function
About 10% of the genes in plants are specifically or selectively expressed in pollen, but the functions of most are not understood. We used Arabidopsis to identify mutants that are defective at a particular stage of pollen development, or during pollen hydration, pollen tube growth, pollen tube guidance, or fertilization. Usually such mutants have altered transmission through the male parent, but do not affect female transmission, so can be studied in heterozygotes.
The giftwrap pollen mutant has what appears to be ribbons tied in bows inside the pollen grain (stained with decolorized aniline blue).
We were interested in double fertilization, specifically in how the two sperm and their fusion partners, the egg and the central cell, recognize and fuse with each other. To develop tools for this objective, we generated cDNA libraries from maize sperm, eggs, and embryo sacs, sequenced ~20,000 ESTs, then used these datasets as starting points to identify gamete-specific genes. We identified promoter elements that will drive gamete-specific gene expression. We then used Arabidopsis to identify T-DNA insertions in gamete-expressed genes, and tested whether there was a phenotype. We found that fertilization fails when some of these genes were disrupted.
Liu, H., Li, Y., Wang, S., Yuan, T., Huang, W., Dong, X., Zhang, D., McCormick, S. and Tang, W. 2020. Kinase Partner Protein plays a key role in controlling the speed and shape of pollen tube growth in tomato. Plant Physiology 184: 1853-1869. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.20.01081
Wu, W., Li, L., Zhao, Y., Jiang, T., McCormick, S and Zheng, B. 2020. Heterochromatic silencing is reinforced by ARID1-mediated small RNA movement in Arabidopsis pollen. New Phytologist 229: 3269-3280. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16871
McCormick, S. 2019. Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 and links to RNA processes in Physcomitrella patens. Plant Journal 97: 219-220. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14221
McCormick, S. 2018. Ta Ta for now: Thlapsi arvense (pennycress), an emerging model for genetic analyses. Plant Journal 96: 1091-1092. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14172
McCormick, S. 2018. MEDIATOR18 modulates viability of root initial cells. Plant Journal 96: 893-894. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14151
McCormick, S. 2018. Undegraded peptides in organelles convey toxic signals. Plant Journal 96: 703-704. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14130
McCormick, S. 2018. Using Brachypodium distachyon natural populations to uncover genomic regions under selection. Plant Journal 96: 485-486. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14129
McCormick, S. 2018. Regulation of diurnal growth: phytochrome interacting factor 5 is degraded by the E3 ubiquitin ligase CUL4COP1‐SPA. Plant Journal 96: 249-250. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14103
McCormick, S. 2018. Altered phenotypes via graft‐transmitted siRNAs. Plant Journal 96: 3-4. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14082
McCormick, S. 2018. mRNA degradation‐based biosensors for boron. Plant Journal 95: 761-762. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14054
McCormick, S. 2018. Recombinases and rhizogenes for easy gene stacking. Plant Journal 95: 571-572. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14024
McCormick, S. 2018. Remembrance of stresses past: heat shock factors and histone hypermethylation are key. Plant Journal 95: 399-400. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14001
McCormick, S. 2018. Red fruit, orange fruit, orange fruit, red fruit: genome editing in tomato. Plant Journal 95: 3-4. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13967
McCormick, S. 2018. Location, location, location: lipid metabolism varies in different parts of the seed. Plant Journal 94: 913-914. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13966
McCormick, S. 2018. A non‐invasive and versatile way to assess plasmodesmatal connections. Plant Journal 94: 749-750. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13946
McCormick, S. 2018. RNA‐directed DNA methylation and seed development: an unexpected difference between Arabidopsis thaliana and Brassica rapa. Plant Journal 94: 573-574. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13935
McCormick, S. 2018. An arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus adjusts its secretome depending on developmental stage and host plant. Plant Journal 94: 409-410. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13917
McCormick, S. 2018. Assessing transcriptional network changes accompanying cell differentiation. Plant Journal 94: 213-214. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13912
McCormick, S. 2018. Binding sites for pentatricopeptide repeat proteins differentially activate chloroplast transgenes. Plant Journal 94: 6-7. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.1388
McCormick, S. 2018. New tools to assess cell polarity and division in the developing Arabidopsis embryo. Plant Journal 93: 961-962. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13879
McCormick, S. 2018. Surprise: The classic white seedling 3 mutant in maize lacks plastoquinone‐9 but can still make carotenoids. Plant Journal 93: 797-798. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13862
McCormick, S. 2018. Unilateral incompatibility is linked to reduced pollen expression of a farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase. Plant Journal 93: 415-416. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13814
McCormick, S. 2018. Nanoscale imaging of xyloglucan in plant cell walls. Plant Journal 93: 209-210. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13809
Qin, P., Loraine, A.E. and McCormick, S. 2018. Cell-specific cis-natural antisense transcripts (cis-NATs) in the sperm and the pollen vegetative cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. F1000 Research https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.13311.1
McCormick, S. 2018 Rhizobial strain‐dependent restriction of nitrogen fixation in a legume‐Rhizobium symbiosis.Plant Journal 93: 3-4. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13791
McCormick, S. 2017. Manipulating the cell/air space ratio to optimize photosynthesis. Plant Journal 92:979-980. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13776
McCormick, S. 2017. Chloroplast‐targeted antioxidant protein protects against necrotrophic fungal attack. Plant Journal 92: 759-760. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13762
McCormick, S. 2017 Discovery of new QTLs underlying hybrid fertility and reproductive isolation in rice. Plant Journal 92: 347-348. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13721
McCormick, S. 2017. Directed evolution of DGAT1 to increase triacylglycerol content Plant Journal 92: 165-166. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13707
McCormick, S. 2017. A 3‐dimensional biomechanical model of guard cell mechanics. Plant Journal 92: 3-4. https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13665
Jiang, J., Guan, Y., McCormick, S, Juvik, J., Lubberstedt, T and Fei, S-z. 2017. Gametophytic self-incompatibility is operative in Miscanthus sinensis (Poaceae) and is affected by pistil age. Crop Science 57: 1948-1956. https://doi.org/10.2135/cropsci2016.11.0932
Chen, Y, Zou, T and McCormick, S. 2016. S-Adenosylmethionine Synthase 3 is important for pollen tube growth. Plant Physiology172: 244-253. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.16.00774
Jiang H, Yi J, Boavida LC, Chen Y, Becker JD, Köhler C, McCormick S. 2015. Intercellular communication in pollen discovered via AHG3 transcript movement from the vegetative cell to sperm. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112:13378-83. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1510854112
Gui, C., Dong, X., Liu, H., Huang, W., Zhang, D., Wang, S., Barberini, M.L., Gao, X., Muschietti, J., McCormick, S. and Tang, W. 2014. Overexpression of the tomato pollen receptor kinase LePRK1 rewires pollen tube growth to a blebbing mode. Plant Cell 26: 3538-3555. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.127381
Huang, W., Liu, H., McCormick, S., and Tang, W. 2014. Tomato pistil factor LeSTIG1 promotes in vivo pollen tube growth by binding to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate and the extracellular domain of LePRK2. Plant Cell 26: 2505-2523. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.123281
Zheng, B., He, H., Zheng, Y., Wu, W. and McCormick, S. 2014. An ARID domain-containing protein within nuclear bodies is required for sperm cell formation in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS Genetics https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1004421
McCormick, S. 2013. Pollen. Current Biology 23: R988-R990; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.016
Zhao, X-Y., Wang, Q., Li., S., Ge., F-R., Zhou, L-Z., McCormick, S. and Zhang, Y. 2013. The juxtamembrane and carboxy-terminal domains of Arabidopsis PRK2 are critical for ROP-induced growth in pollen tubes. J. Experimental Botany 64: 5599-5610. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/ert323
Boavida, L.C., Qin, P., Broz, M., Becker, J.D. and McCormick, S. 2013. Arabidopsis tetraspanins are confined to discrete expression domains and cell types in reproductive tissues and form homo- and hetero-dimers when expressed in yeast. Plant Physiology 163: 696-712. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.113.216598
Li, S., Zhou, L-Z., Feng, Q-N., McCormick, S. and Zhang, Y. 2013. The C-terminal hypervariable domain targets Arabidopsis ROP9 to the invaginated pollen tube plasma membrane. Molecular Plant 6:1362-1364. https://doi.org/10.1093/mp/sst098
Ron, M., Alandete-Saez, M., Williams, L., Fletcher, J. and McCormick, S. 2010. Proper regulation of a sperm-specific cis-nat-siRNA is essential for double fertilization in Arabidopsis. Genes & Development 24:1010-1021. http://www.genesdev.org/cgi/doi/10.1101/gad.1882810
Muschietti, J. and McCormick, S. 2010. Abscisic acid (ABA) receptors: light at the end of the tunnel. F1000 Biology Reports 2:15 http://f1000biology.com/reports/10.3410/B2-15/
Zhang, Y.*, He, J.*, Lee, D. and McCormick, S. 2010. Interdependence of endomembrane trafficking and actin dynamics during polarized growth of Arabidopsis pollen tubes. Plant Physiology 152:2200-2210. * co-first authors. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.109.142349
Wengier, D.L., Mazzella, M.A., Salem, T.M., McCormick, S. and Muschietti, J.P. 2010. STIL, a peculiar molecule from styles, specifically dephosphorylates the pollen receptor kinase LePRK2 and stimulates pollen tube growth in vitro. BMC Plant Biology 10:33 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/10/33)
Zhang, Y. and McCormick, S. 2009. The regulation of vesicle trafficking by small GTPases and phospholipids during pollen tube growth. Sexual Plant Reproduction 23:87-93. https://doi:10.1007/s00497-009-0118-z.
Zhang, Y. and McCormick, S. 2009. AGC VIII kinases: at the crossroads of cellular signaling. Trends in Plant Science 14: 689-695.
Boavida, L.C., Shuai, B., Yu, H-J., Pagnussat, G. C., Sundaresan, V. and McCormick, S. 2009. A collection of Ds insertions associated with defects in male gametophyte development and function in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics 181: 1369-1385. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.108.090852
Zhang, Y., He, J. and McCormick,S. 2009. Two Arabidopsis AGC kinases are critical for the polarized growth of pollen tubes. Plant Journal 58: 474-484. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.03792.x
Zhang, D., Wengier, D., Shuai, B., Gui, C.P., Muschietti, J., McCormick, S. and Tang,W.H. 2008. The pollen receptor kinase LePRK2 mediates growth-promoting signals and positively regulates pollen germination and tube growth. Plant Physiology 148: 1368-1379. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.108.124420
Blanvillain, R., Boavida, L.C., McCormick, S. and Ow, D.W. 2008. Exportin1 genes are essential for development and function of the gametophytes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics 180: 1493-1500; 10.1534/genetics.108.094896.
Borges, F., Gomes, G., Gardner,R., Moreno, N., McCormick, S., Feijo, J.A. and Becker, J.D. 2008. Comparative transcriptomics of Arabidopsis thaliana sperm cells. Plant Physiology 148: 1168-1181; 10.1104/pp.108.125229.
Alandete-Saez, M., Ron, M. and McCormick, S. 2008. GEX3, expressed in the male gametophyte and in the egg cell of Arabidopsis thaliana, is essential for micropylar pollen tube guidance and plays a role during early embryogenesis. Molecular Plant 1: 586-598.
Zhang, Y and McCormick, S. 2007. A distinct mechanism regulating a pollen-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small GTPase Rop in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 18830-18835.
Boavida, L.C. and McCormick, S. 2007. Temperature as a determinant factor for increased and reproducible in vitro pollen germination in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Journal 52: 570-582. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2007.03248.x
McCormick, S. 2007. Reproductive dialog. Science 317: 606-607.
Yang, H., Kaur, N., Kiriakopolos, S. and McCormick, S. 2006. EST generation and analyses towards identifying female gametophyte-specific genes in Zea mays L. Planta 224: 1004-1014.
Holmes-Davis, R., Tanaka, C.K., Vensel, W., Hurkman, W. and McCormick, S. 2005. Proteome mapping of mature pollen of Arabidopsis thaliana. Proteomics 5: 4864-4884.
Engel, M.L., Holmes-Davis, R. and McCormick, S. 2005. Green sperm. Identification of male gamete promoters in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiology 138: 2124-2133.
McCormick, S. and Yang, H. 2005. Is there more than one way to attract a pollen tube? Trends Plant Sciences 10: 260-263.
Kaothien, P., Ok, S.H., Shuai, B., Wengier, D., Cotter, R., Kelley, D., Kiriakopolos, S., Muschietti, J. and McCormick, S. 2005. Kinase partner protein interacts with the LePRK1 and LePRK2 receptor kinases and plays a role in polarized pollen tube growth. Plant Journal 42: 492-503.
Wang, Y., Magnard, J-L., McCormick, S. and Yang, M. 2004. Progression through meiosis I and meiosis II in Arabidopsis thaliana anthers is regulated by an A-type cyclin predominately expressed in prophase I. Plant Physiology 136: 4127-4135.
Johnson-Brousseau, S.A. and McCormick, S. 2004. A compendium of methods useful for characterizing Arabidopsis pollen mutants and gametophytically-expressed genes. Plant Journal 39: 761-775. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2004.02147.x
Guyon, V., Tang, W., Monti., M., Raiola, A., DeLorenzo, G., McCormick, S. and Taylor, L. 2004. Antisense phenotypes reveal a role for SHY, a pollen-specific leucine-rich repeat protein, in pollen tube growth. Plant Journal 39: 643-654.
Tang, W., Kelley, D., Ezcurra, I., Cotter, R. and McCormick, S. 2004. LeSTIG1, an extracellular binding partner for the pollen receptor kinases LePRK1 and LePRK2, promotes pollen tube growth in vitro. Plant Journal 39: 343-353.
McCormick, S. 2004. Control of male gametophyte development. Plant Cell 16: S142-153.
Wengier, D., Valsecchi, I., Cabanas, M.L., Tang, W., McCormick, S. and Muschietti, J. 2003. The receptor kinases LePRK1 and LePRK2 associate in pollen and when expressed in yeast, but dissociate in the presence of style extract. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:6860-6865. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0631728100
Engel, M.L., Chaboud, A., Dumas, C. and McCormick, S. 2003. Sperm cells of Zea mays have a complex complement of mRNAs. Plant Journal 34:697-707. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-313X.2003.01761.x
Tang, W., Ezcurra, I., Muschietti, J. and McCormick, S. 2002. A cysteine-rich extracellular protein, LAT52, interacts with the extracellular domain of the pollen receptor kinase LePRK2. Plant Cell 14: 2277-2287. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.003103
Yang, M. and McCormick, S. 2002. The Arabidopsis thaliana MEI1 gene likely encodes a protein with BRCT domains. Sexual Plant Reproduction 14:355-357. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00497-002-0129-5
Kim, H-Y., Cotter, R., Johnson, S., Senda, M., Dodds, P., Kulikauskas, R., Tang, W., Ezcurra, I., Herzmark, P. and McCormick, S. 2002. New pollen-specific receptor kinases identified in tomato, maize and Arabidopsis: the tomato kinases show overlapping but distinct localization patterns on pollen tubes. Plant Molecular Biology 50:1-16. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016077014583
Cock, J.M. and McCormick, S. 2001. A large family of genes that share homology with CLAVATA3. Plant Physiology 126: 939-943. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.126.3.939
Magnard, J-L., Yang, M., Chen, Y-C. S., Leary, M. and McCormick, S. 2001 The Arabidopsis thaliana gene Tardy Asynchronous Meiosis (TAM) is required for the normal pace and synchrony of cell division during male meiosis. Plant Physiology 127:1157-1166. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.010473
Johnson, S. and McCormick, S. 2001. Pollen germinates precociously in the anthers of raring-to-go, an Arabidopsis thaliana gametophytic mutant. Plant Physiology 126: 685-695. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.126.2.685
Fellow - AAAS - 2011
Fellow - American Society of Plant Biologists - 2011
Luso-American Award for Sabbatical, Lisbon, Portugal, 2003
Judith Pool Award for Mentoring - Northern California Chapter, Assoc.Women in Science - 2002
Fulbright Award for Sabbatical, Lyon, France, 1997