Increased calcium levels and prolonged shelf life in tomatoes expressing Arabidopsis H+/Ca2+ transporters

Plant Physiol. 2005 Nov;139(3):1194-206. doi: 10.1104/pp.105.066266. Epub 2005 Oct 21.


Here we demonstrate that fruit from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants expressing Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) H(+)/cation exchangers (CAX) have more calcium (Ca2+) and prolonged shelf life when compared to controls. Previously, using the prototypical CAX1, it has been demonstrated that, in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cells, CAX transporters are activated when the N-terminal autoinhibitory region is deleted, to give an N-terminally truncated CAX (sCAX), or altered through specific manipulations. To continue to understand the diversity of CAX function, we used yeast assays to characterize the putative transport properties of CAX4 and N-terminal variants of CAX4. CAX4 variants can suppress the Ca2+ hypersensitive yeast phenotypes and also appear to be more specific Ca2+ transporters than sCAX1. We then compared the phenotypes of sCAX1- and CAX4-expressing tomato lines. The sCAX1-expressing tomato lines demonstrate increased vacuolar H(+)/Ca2+ transport, when measured in root tissue, elevated fruit Ca2+ level, and prolonged shelf life but have severe alterations in plant development and morphology, including increased incidence of blossom-end rot. The CAX4-expressing plants demonstrate more modest increases in Ca2+ levels and shelf life but no deleterious effects on plant growth. These findings suggest that CAX expression may fortify plants with Ca2+ and may serve as an alternative to the application of CaCl2 used to extend the shelf life of numerous agriculturally important commodities. However, judicious regulation of CAX transport is required to assure optimal plant growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antiporters / genetics
  • Antiporters / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis* / genetics
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cations / metabolism
  • Ethylenes / biosynthesis
  • Fruit / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Ion Transport
  • Phenotype
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Protons*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics
  • Solanum lycopersicum / growth & development
  • Solanum lycopersicum / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Antiporters
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CAX4 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Cations
  • Ethylenes
  • Protons
  • calcium-hydrogen antiporters
  • ethylene
  • Calcium