The ripening-related pepper endo-1,4-β-D-glucanase (EGase) CaCel1 was over-expressed in transgenic tomato plants under the control of the constitutive 35S promoter to investigate the effects on plant growth and fruit softening of high levels of a potential cell wall-degrading activity. In transgenic fruit, recombinant CaCel1 protein was associated with a high-salt putative cell wall fraction, and extractable CMCase activity was increased by up to 20-fold relative to controls. However, the effects of high levels of EGase activity on fruit cell wall metabolism were relatively small. The largest consequence observed was a decrease of up to 20% in the amount of matrix glycans in a 24% KOH-soluble fraction consisting of polysaccharides tightly bound to cellulose. This decrease was confined to polysaccharides other than xyloglucan, did not affect the size distribution of remaining molecules, and was not correlated with a corresponding increase in glycans in a 4% KOH-soluble fraction loosely bound to cellulose, suggesting that the missing polymers had been degraded to fragments small enough to be lost from the extracts. The amount of matrix glycans in the 4% KOH-soluble fraction was not substantially changed, but the size distribution showed a small relative increase in the amount of polymers in a peak eluting close to a linear dextran marker of 71 kDa. This could be due either to an increase in the amount of polymers of this size, or to a loss from the extract of other polymers present in peaks of higher molecular weight. Transgenic fruit were not softer than controls but appeared the same or slightly firmer at both green and red developmental stages, and no differences in plant vegetative growth were observed. CaCel1 did not cause depolymerization of tomato fruit xyloglucan in vivo, but differences in the amount or molecular weight profile of other matrix glycans were observed. The data suggest that degradation of a proportion of matrix glycans other than xyloglucan does not result in fruit softening, and that fruit softening is not limited by the amount of EGase activity present during ripening.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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