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J AOAC Int. 2007 Sep-Oct;90(5):1456-64.

Overaccumulation of higher polyamines in ripening transgenic tomato fruit revives metabolic memory, upregulates anabolism-related genes, and positively impacts nutritional quality.

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  • 1U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, The Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Bldg 001, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA.


Vegetables and fruits are essential components of the human diet as they are sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and provide antioxidants that prevent chronic diseases. Our goal is to improve durable nutritional quality of tomato fruit. We developed transgenic tomatoes expressing yeast S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (ySAMdc) gene driven by a fruit-specific E8 promoter to investigate the role of polyamines in fruit metabolism. Stable integration of E8-ySAMdc chimeric gene in tomato genome led to ripening-specific accumulation of polyamines, spermidine (Spd) and spermine (Spm), which in turn affected higher accumulation of glutamine, asparagine, and organic acids in the red fruit with significant decrease in the contents of valine, aspartate, sucrose, and glucose. The metabolite profiling analysis suggests that Spd/Spm are perceived as "signaling" organic-N metabolites by the fruit cells, resulting in the stimulation of carbon sequestration; enhanced synthesis of biomolecules; increased acid to sugar ratio, a good attribute for the fruit flavor; and in the accumulation of another "vital amine," choline, which is an essential micronutrient for brain development. A limited transcriptome analysis of the transgenic fruit that accumulate higher polyamines revealed a large number of differentially expressed genes, about 55% of which represented discrete functional categories, and the remaining 45% were novel, unknown, or unclassified: amino acid biosynthesis, carotenoid biosynthesis, cell wall metabolism, chaperone family, flavonoid biosynthesis, fruit ripening, isoprenoid biosynthesis, polyamine biosynthesis, signal transduction, stress/defense-related, transcription, translation, and vacuolar function. There was a good correspondence between some gene transcripts and their protein products, but not in the case of the tonoplast intrinsic protein, which showed post-transcriptional regulation. Higher metabolic activity of the transgenic fruit is reflected in higher respiratory activity, and upregulation of chaperones and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase transcripts compared to the control. These transgenic plants are a new resource to understand the role of Spd/Spm in fruit biology. Transcriptome analysis and metabolic profiles of Spd/Spm accumulating, transgenic fruit suggest the presence of an intricate regulation and interconnection between certain metabolic pathways that are revived when Spd and Spm likely reach a certain threshold. Thus, polyamines act as antiapoptotic regulatory molecules and are able to revive metabolic memory in the tomato fruit.

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