Directional control of tip-growing cells is essential for proper tissue organization and cell-to-cell communication in animals and plants1, 2. In the sexual reproduction of flowering plants, the tip growth of the male gametophyte, the pollen tube, is precisely guided by female cues to achieve fertilization3. Several female-secreted peptides have recently been identified as species-specific attractants that directly control the direction of pollen tube growth4, 5, 6. However, the method by which pollen tubes precisely and promptly respond to the guidance signal from their own species is unknown. Here we show that tip-localized pollen-specific receptor-like kinase 6 (PRK6) with an extracellular leucine-rich repeat domain is an essential receptor for sensing of the LURE1 attractant peptide in Arabidopsis thaliana under semi-in-vivo conditions, and is important for ovule targeting in the pistil. PRK6 interacted with pollen-expressed ROPGEFs (Rho of plant guanine nucleotide-exchange factors), which are important for pollen tube growth through activation of the signalling switch Rho GTPase ROP1 (refs 7, 8). PRK6 conferred responsiveness to AtLURE1 in pollen tubes of the related species Capsella rubella. Furthermore, our genetic and physiological data suggest that PRK6 signalling through ROPGEFs and sensing of AtLURE1 are achieved in cooperation with the other PRK family receptors, PRK1, PRK3 and PRK8. Notably, the tip-focused PRK6 accumulated asymmetrically towards an external AtLURE1 source before reorientation of pollen tube tip growth. These results demonstrate that PRK6 acts as a key membrane receptor for external AtLURE1 attractants, and recruits the core tip-growth machinery, including ROP signalling proteins. This work provides insights into the orchestration of efficient pollen tube growth and species-specific pollen tube attraction by multiple receptors during male–female communication.
Via Francis Martin