Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Temporal and spatial expression of hexose transporters in developing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) fruit

Stephen J. Dibley A , Michael L. Gear A B , Xiao Yang A , Elke G. Rosche A C , Christina E. Offler A , David W. McCurdy A and John W. Patrick A D

A School of Environmental and Life Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

B Current address: Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, MDP-54, PO Box 100, Woden, ACT 2606, Australia.

C Current address: Molecular Plant Physiology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, PO Box 475, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 32(9) 777-785
Submitted: 30 November 2004  Accepted: 25 May 2005   Published: 26 August 2005


Correlative physiological evidence suggests that membrane transport into storage parenchyma cells is a key step in determining hexose levels accumulated in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit (Ruan et al. 1997). Expression of three previously identified hexose transporter genes (LeHT1, 2 and 3) demonstrated that LeHT3, and to a lesser extent LeHT1, are the predominant transporters expressed in young fruit (10 d after anthesis; DAA). Expression of both transporters dropped sharply until 24 DAA, after which only LeHT3 expression remained at detectable levels through to fruit ripening. LeHT2 was not expressed substantially until the onset of fruit ripening. For fruit at both 10 and 30 DAA, LeHT3 transcripts were detected in storage parenchyma cells of the outer pericarp tissue, but not in vascular bundles or the first layer of parenchyma cells surrounding these bundles. In contrast to LeHT gene expression, hexose transporter protein levels were maximal between 20 and 30 DAA, which corresponded to the period of highest hexose accumulation. The delayed appearance of transporter protein is consistent with some form of post-transcriptional regulation. Based on these analyses, LeHT3 appears to be responsible for the rapid hexose accumulation in developing tomato fruit.

Keywords: fruit, gene expression, hexose transporters, membrane transport, tomato, sugar accumulation.


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