Tomato ovary-to-fruit transition is characterized by a spatial shift of mRNAs for cell wall invertase and its inhibitor with the encoded proteins localized to sieve elements

Mol Plant. 2015 Feb;8(2):315-28. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2014.12.019. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Central to understanding fruit development is to elucidate the processes mediating a successful transition from pre-pollination ovaries to newly set fruit, a key step in establishing fruit yield potential. In tomato, cell wall invertase (CWIN) LIN5 and its inhibitor INH1 are essential for fruit growth. However, the molecular and cellular basis by which they exert their roles in ovary-to-fruit transition remains unknown. To address this issue, we conducted a study focusing on ovaries and fruitlets at 2 days before and 2 days after anthesis, respectively. In situ hybridization analyses revealed that LIN5 and INH1 exhibited a dispersed expression in ovaries compared with their phloem-specific expression in fruitlets. Remarkably, LIN5 and INH1 proteins were immunologically co-localized to cell walls of sieve elements (SEs) in ovaries immediately prior to anthesis and in young fruitlets, but were undetectable in provascular bundles of younger ovaries. A burst in CWIN activity occurred during ovary-to-fruit transition. Interestingly, the ovaries, but not the fruitlets, exhibited high expression of a defective invertase, SldeCWIN1, an ortholog of which is known to enhance inhibition of INH on CWIN activity in tobacco. Imaging of a fluorescent symplasmic tracer indicated an apoplasmic phloem unloading pathway operated in ovaries, contrary to the previously observed symplasmic unloading pathway in fruit pericarp. These new data indicate that (1) a phloem-specific patterning of the CWIN and INH mRNAs is induced during ovary-to-fruit transition, and (2) LIN5 protein functions specifically in walls of SEs and increases its activity during ovary-to-fruit transition, probably to facilitate phloem unloading and to generate a glucose signal positively regulating cell division, hence fruit set.

Keywords: fruit set; invertase; invertase inhibitor; phloem unloading; sugar signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / enzymology
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Fruit / enzymology
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / enzymology*
  • Phloem / enzymology
  • Phloem / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / metabolism*


  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase