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Plant Physiol. Oct 1994; 106(2): 429–436.
PMCID: PMC159547

Reduction in Pectin Methylesterase Activity Modifies Tissue Integrity and Cation Levels in Ripening Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Fruits.


Pectin methylesterase (PME, EC is an ubiquitous enzyme in the plant kingdom; however, its role in plant growth and development is not yet understood. Using transgenic tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruits that show more than 10-fold reduction in PME activity because of expression of an antisense PME gene, we have investigated the role of PME in tomato fruit ripening. Our results show that reduced PME activity causes an almost complete loss of tissue integrity during fruit senescence but shows little effect on fruit firmness during ripening. Low PME activity in the transgenic fruit pericarp modified both accumulation and partitioning of cations between soluble and bound forms and selectively impaired accumulation of Mg2+ over other major cations. Decreased PME activity was associated with a 30 to 70% decrease in bound Ca2+ and Mg2+ in transgenic pericarp. Levels of soluble Ca2+ increase 10 to 60%, whereas levels of soluble Mg2+ and Na+ are reduced by 20 to 60% in transgenic pericarp. Changes in cation levels associated with lowered PME activity do not affect the rate of respiration or membrane integrity of fruit during ripening. Overall, these results suggest that PME plays a role in determining tissue integrity during fruit senescence, perhaps by regulating cation binding to the cell wall.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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