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Plant Physiol. 2007 Aug;144(4):1960-7. Epub 2007 Jun 7.

Silencing of the major salt-dependent isoform of pectinesterase in tomato alters fruit softening.

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  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, United Kingdom.


Pectinesterase (PE; E.C. is an enzyme responsible for the demethylation of galacturonyl residues in high-molecular-weight pectin and is believed to play an important role in cell wall metabolism. In this study, Pmeu1, a ubiquitously expressed PE gene, has been characterized by antisense suppression in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Transgenic tomato plants showed reduced PE activity levels in both green fruit and leaf tissue to around 65% and 25% of that found in wild-type plants, respectively. Pmeu1 was observed to encode a salt-dependent PE isoform that correlated with PE1 as previously described in fruit tissue. Silencing of Pmeu1 did not result in any detectable phenotype within the leaf tissue despite the gene product representing the major isoform in this tissue. In comparison, silencing in fruit resulted in an enhancement to the rate of softening during ripening. The role of PMEU1 in fruit ripening is discussed.

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