Subchromoplast sequestration of carotenoids affects regulatory mechanisms in tomato lines expressing different carotenoid gene combinations

Plant Cell. 2013 Nov;25(11):4560-79. doi: 10.1105/tpc.113.116210. Epub 2013 Nov 18.


Metabolic engineering of the carotenoid pathway in recent years has successfully enhanced the carotenoid contents of crop plants. It is now clear that only increasing biosynthesis is restrictive, as mechanisms to sequestrate these increased levels in the cell or organelle should be exploited. In this study, biosynthetic pathway genes were overexpressed in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) lines and the effects on carotenoid formation and sequestration revealed. The bacterial Crt carotenogenic genes, independently or in combination, and their zygosity affect the production of carotenoids. Transcription of the pathway genes was perturbed, whereby the tissue specificity of transcripts was altered. Changes in the steady state levels of metabolites in unrelated sectors of metabolism were found. Of particular interest was a concurrent increase of the plastid-localized lipid monogalactodiacylglycerol with carotenoids along with membranous subcellular structures. The carotenoids, proteins, and lipids in the subchromoplast fractions of the transgenic tomato fruit with increased carotenoid content suggest that cellular structures can adapt to facilitate the sequestration of the newly formed products. Moreover, phytoene, the precursor of the pathway, was identified in the plastoglobule, whereas the biosynthetic enzymes were in the membranes. The implications of these findings with respect to novel pathway regulation mechanisms are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / genetics*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Farnesyltranstransferase / genetics
  • Farnesyltranstransferase / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Geranylgeranyl-Diphosphate Geranylgeranyltransferase / genetics
  • Geranylgeranyl-Diphosphate Geranylgeranyltransferase / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Plastids / diagnostic imaging
  • Plastids / genetics
  • Secondary Metabolism / genetics
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Ultrasonography


  • Carotenoids
  • Oxidoreductases
  • phytoene dehydrogenase
  • Farnesyltranstransferase
  • Geranylgeranyl-Diphosphate Geranylgeranyltransferase