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Plant Physiol. Sep 1991; 97(1): 80–87.
PMCID: PMC1080966

Molecular Cloning of Tomato Pectin Methylesterase Gene and its Expression in Rutgers, Ripening Inhibitor, Nonripening, and Never Ripe Tomato Fruits 1


We have purified pectin methylesterase (PME; EC 3.1.11) from mature green (MG) tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv Rutgers) pericarp to an apparent homogeneity, raised antibodies to the purified protein, and isolated a PME cDNA clone from a λgtll expression library constructed from MG pericarp poly(A)+ RNA. Based on DNA sequencing, the PME cDNA clone isolated in the present study is different from that cloned earlier from cv Ailsa Craig (J Ray et al. [1989] Eur J Biochem 174:119-124). PME antibodies and the cDNA clone are used to determine changes in PME gene expression in developing fruits from normally ripening cv Rutgers and ripening-impaired mutants ripening inhibitor (rin), nonripening (nor), and never ripe (Nr). In Rutgers, PME mRNA is first detected in 15-day-old fruit, reaches a steady-state maximum between 30-day-old fruit and MG stage, and declines thereafter. PME activity is first detectable at day 10 and gradually increases until the turning stage. The increase in PME activity parallels an increase in PME protein; however, the levels of PME protein continue to increase beyond the turning stage while PME activity begins to decline. Patterns of PME gene expression in nor and Nr fruits are similar to the normally ripening cv Rutgers. However, the rin mutation has a considerable effect on PME gene expression in tomato fruits. PME RNA is not detectable in rin fruits older than 45 days and PME activity and protein begin showing a decline at the same time. Even though PME activity levels comparable to 25-day-old fruit were found in root tissue of normal plants, PME protein and mRNA are not detected in vegetative tissues using PME antibodies and cDNA as probes. Our data suggest that PME expression in tomato pericarp is highly regulated during fruit development and that mRNA synthesis and stability, protein stability, and delayed protein synthesis influence the level of PME activity in developing fruits.

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Selected References

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