, Volume 226, Issue 5, pp 1097-1108
Date: 01 Jun 2007

Overexpression of glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase gene improves chilling tolerance in tomato

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A tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase gene (LeGPAT) was isolated. The deduced amino acid sequence revealed that LeGPAT contained four acyltransferase domains, showing high identities with GPAT in other plant species. A GFP fusion protein of LeGPAT was targeted to chloroplast in cowpea mesophyll protoplast. RNA gel blot showed that the mRNA accumulation of LeGPAT in the wild type (WT) was induced by chilling temperature. Higher expression levels were observed when tomato leaves were exposed to 4°C for 4 h. RNA gel and western blot analysis confirmed that the sense gene LeGPAT was transferred into the tomato genome and overexpressed under the control of 35S-CaMV. Although tomato is classified as a chilling-sensitive plant, LeGPAT exhibited selectivity to 18:1 over 16:0. Overexpression of LeGPAT increased total activity of LeGPAT and cis-unsaturated fatty acids in PG in thylakoid membrane. Chilling treatment induced less ion leakage from the transgenic plants than from the WT. The photosynthetic rate and the maximal photochemical efficiency of PS II (Fv/Fm) in transgenic plants decreased more slowly during chilling stress and recovered faster than in WT under optimal conditions. The oxidizable P700 in both WT and transgenic plants decreased obviously at chilling temperature under low irradiance, but the oxidizable P700 recovered faster in transgenic plants than in the WT. These results indicate that overexpression of LeGPAT increased the levels of PG cis-unsaturated fatty acids in thylakoid membrane, which was beneficial for the recovery of chilling-induced PS I photoinhibition in tomato.

LeGPAT was submitted to the GenBank databases under accession number DQ459433 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).