Diversification of NOR-like genes resulted in functional similarity in tomato

Abstract

Fruit shelf life is an important tomato breeding trait. Ethylene production greatly affects shelf life and is genetically regulated. Tomato ripening is associated with increased ethylene production, and tomato is used as a model for studying fruit ripening, particularly the ethylene biosynthesis and signaling pathways. The key ripening regulator NOR encodes a NAC domain transcription factor which is part of a large plant-specific gene family. Both CRES-T and RNAi gene suppression transgenic lines revealed delayed ripening signs. Further screening of the Micro-Tom ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS)-mutagenized population enabled the selection of alleles responsible for phenotype alterations. Analyses of the transcription levels of ethylene biosynthesis genes ACC synthase (ACS) and ACC-oxidase (ACO) revealed that reduced ethylene production was largely due to transcriptional suppression of ACO1 and ACO3. ACO failed to oxidize the ethylene precursor, thus producing a non-climacteric phenotype in nor. Evidence indicated possible feedback regulation of NOR and cross-regulation of NOR-like genes, and functional conservation suggests that NAC coding genes may undergo functional differentiation. NOR plays a major role in ripening control, whereas NOR-like genes have a minor role; however, a better understanding of NOR-like genes could provide insights into the complex transcriptional regulation of fruit ripening.

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Acknowledgements

We thank laboratory members at the University of Tsukuba for fruitful discussions on this project. We thank Dr. Nobutaka Mitsuda and Dr. Yoshimi Oshima who provided the CRES-T vectors. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26892006, and Program to Disseminate Tenure Tracking System To N.W., and by JSPS 7 KAKENHI Grant Number 25252008 to H.E. The Micro-Tom seeds were obtained from 8 the National BioResource Project Tomato (NBRP-tomato), supported by AMED, Japan.

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NW, MS, TA, MK, and HE designed research; NW, DL, KT, HC, NP and JM performed research; NW, DL, MS, NP, MK and HE analyzed data; and NW, MK and HE wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Ning Wang.

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Wang, N., Liu, D., Tanase, K. et al. Diversification of NOR-like genes resulted in functional similarity in tomato. Plant Growth Regul 86, 297–309 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10725-018-0429-x

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Keywords

  • Transcription factor
  • NAC gene family
  • Subfunctionalization
  • Fruit ripening
  • Tomato