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Plant J. 2001 Apr;26(1):47-58.

Members of the tomato LeEIL (EIN3-like) gene family are functionally redundant and regulate ethylene responses throughout plant development.

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PO Box 110690, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690, USA.


The plant hormone ethylene regulates many aspects of growth, development and responses to the environment. The Arabidopsis ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE3 (EIN3) protein is a nuclear-localized component of the ethylene signal-transduction pathway with DNA-binding activity. Loss-of-function mutations in this protein result in ethylene insensitivity in Arabidopsis. To gain a better understanding of the ethylene signal-transduction pathway in tomato, we have identified three homologs of the Arabidopsis EIN3 gene (LeEILs). Each of these genes complemented the ein3-1 mutation in transgenic Arabidopsis, indicating that all are involved in ethylene signal transduction. Transgenic tomato plants with reduced expression of a single LeEIL gene did not exhibit significant changes in ethylene response; reduced expression of multiple tomato LeEIL genes was necessary to reduce ethylene sensitivity significantly. Reduced LeEIL expression affected all ethylene responses examined, including leaf epinasty, flower abscission, flower senescence and fruit ripening. Our results indicate that the LeEILs are functionally redundant and positive regulators of multiple ethylene responses throughout plant development.

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