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Plant & cell physiology

FaGAST2, a strawberry ripening-related gene, acts together with FaGAST1 to determine cell size of the fruit receptacle.


PMID 23231876

Abstract

Numerous GAST-like genes have been reported in higher plants, but only one GAST-like gene (FaGAST1) has been described in strawberry so far. Herein, we have identified a novel strawberry FaGAST gene (FaGAST2) whose expression showed an increase throughout fruit receptacle development and ripening, coinciding with those stages where a decrease in fruit expansion processes (G3-W and R-OR stages) occurs. FaGAST2 only shares 31% and 15.7% amino acid and nucleotide sequence homology, respectively, with the previously reported FaGAST1 gene, but both genes contain a signal peptide and a highly conserved GASA domain (cysteine-rich domain) in the C-terminal region. FaGAST2 expression is mainly confined to the fruit receptacle and is not regulated by auxins, GA(3) or ABA, but is regulated by ethephon, an intracellular generator of ethylene. In addition, the expression of the FaGAST2 gene also increased under oxidative stress conditions (H(2)O(2) or Colletotrichum acutatum infection), suggesting a direct role for FaGAST2 protein in reactive oxygen species scavenging during fruit growth and ripening and during fungal infection. On the other hand, the overexpression of the FaGAST2 gene in different transgenic lines analyzed caused a delay in the growth of strawberry plants and a reduction in the size of the transgenic fruits. The histological studies performed in these fruits showed that their parenchymal cells were smaller than those of the controls, supporting a relationship between FaGAST2 gene expression, strawberry fruit cell elongation and fruit size. However, transitory silencing of FaGAST2 gene expression through RNA interference approaches revealed an increase in FaGAST1 expression, but no changes in fruit cell size were observed. These results support the hypothesis that both genes must act synergistically to determine fruit cell size during fruit development and ripening.

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