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Plant Physiol. 2003 Apr;131(4):1566-75.

Cloning, expression, and characterization of sorbitol transporters from developing sour cherry fruit and leaf sink tissues.

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Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.


The acyclic polyol sorbitol is a primary photosynthetic product and the principal photosynthetic transport substance in many economically important members of the family Rosaceace (e.g. almond [Prunus dulcis (P. Mill.) D.A. Webber], apple [Malus pumila P. Mill.], cherry [Prunus spp.], peach [Prunus persica L. Batsch], and pear [Pyrus communis]). To understand key steps in long-distance transport and particularly partitioning and accumulation of sorbitol in sink tissues, we have cloned two sorbitol transporter genes (PcSOT1 and PcSOT2) from sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) fruit tissues that accumulate large quantities of sorbitol. Sorbitol uptake activities and other characteristics were measured by heterologous expression of PcSOT1 and PcSOT2 in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Both genes encode proton-dependent, sorbitol-specific transporters with similar affinities (K(m) sorbitol of 0.81 mM for PcSOT1 and 0.64 mM for PcSOT2). Analyses of gene expression of these transporters, however, suggest different roles during leaf and fruit development. PcSOT1 is expressed throughout fruit development, but especially when growth and sorbitol accumulation rates are highest. In leaves, PcSOT1 expression is highest in young, expanding tissues, but substantially less in mature leaves. In contrast, PcSOT2 is mainly expressed only early in fruit development and not in leaves. Compositional analyses suggest that transport mediated by PcSOT1 and PcSOT2 plays a major role in sorbitol and dry matter accumulation in sour cherry fruits. Presence of these transporters and the high fruit sorbitol concentrations suggest that there is an apoplastic step during phloem unloading and accumulation in these sink tissues. Expression of PcSOT1 in young leaves before completion of the transition from sink to source is further evidence for a role in determining sink activity.

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