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Nat Genet. 2006 Aug;38(8):948-52. Epub 2006 Jul 9.

A naturally occurring epigenetic mutation in a gene encoding an SBP-box transcription factor inhibits tomato fruit ripening.

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Warwick Horticulture Research International (HRI), University of Warwick, Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, UK.


A major component in the regulatory network controlling fruit ripening is likely to be the gene at the tomato Colorless non-ripening (Cnr) locus. The Cnr mutation results in colorless fruits with a substantial loss of cell-to-cell adhesion. The nature of the mutation and the identity of the Cnr gene were previously unknown. Using positional cloning and virus-induced gene silencing, here we demonstrate that an SBP-box (SQUAMOSA promoter binding protein-like) gene resides at the Cnr locus. Furthermore, the Cnr phenotype results from a spontaneous epigenetic change in the SBP-box promoter. The discovery that Cnr is an epimutation was unexpected, as very few spontaneous epimutations have been described in plants. This study demonstrates that an SBP-box gene is critical for normal ripening and highlights the likely importance of epialleles in plant development and the generation of natural variation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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