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Plant Cell. Jan 1989; 1(1): 53–63.
PMCID: PMC159736

Expression of a chimeric polygalacturonase gene in transgenic rin (ripening inhibitor) tomato fruit results in polyuronide degradation but not fruit softening.

Abstract

Tomato fruit ripening is accompanied by extensive degradation of pectic cell wall components. This is thought to be due to the action of a single enzyme, polygalacturonase, whose activity is controlled, at least in part, at the level of gene expression. At the onset of tomato fruit ripening, polygalacturonase enzyme activity, mRNA levels, and relative rate of gene transcription all increase dramatically. To elucidate the role of polygalacturonase during tomato fruit ripening, we utilized a pleiotropic genetic mutation, rin, that blocks many aspects of ripening, including the activation of polygalacturonase gene transcription. The polygalacturonase structural gene was ligated to a promoter that is inducible in mature rin fruit and inserted into the fruit genome, and plants were regenerated. This allowed expression of the polygalacturonase gene in transgenic rin fruit at a time corresponding to ripening in wild-type fruit. Expression of this gene resulted in the accumulation of active polygalacturonase enzyme and the degradation of cell wall polyuronides in transgenic rin fruit. However, no significant effect on fruit softening, ethylene evolution, or color development was detected. These results indicate that polygalacturonase is the primary determinant of cell wall polyuronide degradation, but suggest that this degradation is not sufficient for the induction of softening, elevated rates of ethylene biosynthesis, or lycopene accumulation in rin fruit.

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Selected References

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