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TAI vacuolar invertase orthologs: the interspecific variability in tomato plants (Solanum section Lycopersicon)


Understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying carbohydrate metabolism can promote the development of biotechnological advances in fruit plants. The flesh tomato fruit represents an ideal system for examining the role of sucrose cleavage enzymes in fruit development, and wild tomato species differing in storage sugars serve as an excellent research material for this purpose. Plant vacuolar invertase is a key enzyme of sucrose metabolism in the sink organs. In the present study, we identified complete gene sequences encoding the TAI vacuolar invertase in 11 wild and one cultivated tomato accessions of the Solanum section Lycopersicon. The average level of interspecific polymorphism in TAI genes was 8.58%; however, in the green-fruited tomatoes, the TAI genes contained 100 times more SNPs than those in the red-fruited accessions. The TAI proteins demonstrated 8% variability, whereas the red-fruited species had none. A TAI-based phylogenetic tree revealed two main clusters containing self-compatible and self-incompatible species, which concurs with the previous crossability-based division and demonstrates that the TAI genes reflect the evolutionary relationships between the red- and green-fruited tomatoes. Furthermore, we detected differential expression patterns of the TAI genes in the fruits of wild and cultivated tomatoes, which corresponded to sugar composition. The polymorphism analysis of the TAI acid invertases of Solanum section Lycopersicon species will contribute to the understanding of the genetic potential of TAI genes to impact tomato breeding through genetic engineering of the carbohydrate composition in the fruit.

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Tomato acid invertase


Isoelectric point


Single-nucleotide polymorphism


Glycoside hydrolase family


Quantitative real-time PCR




Vacuolar invertase inhibitor


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This work was financially supported by grants from the Program “Molecular and Cellular Biology” of RAS (#01201353319) and Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO Russia; #0104-2014-0210), and was performed using the experimental climate control facility in the Institute of Bioengineering, Research Center of Biotechnology, Russian Academy of Sciences. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments that greatly contributed to improving the final version of the paper.

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EZK conceived and designed the research. MAS conducted the experiments and performed gene cloning, phylogenetic reconstructions, variability analyses, and expression pattern determination. AVS contributed to in silico analyses. EZK, MAS, and AVS wrote the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Correspondence to M. A. Slugina.

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This work was funded by grants from the Program “Molecular and Cellular Biology” of RAS (#01201353319) and Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO Russia; #0104-2014-0210).

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Marya A. Slugina declares that she has no conflict of interest. Anna V. Shchennikova declares that she has no conflict of interest. Elena Z. Kochieva declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Slugina, M.A., Shchennikova, A.V. & Kochieva, E.Z. TAI vacuolar invertase orthologs: the interspecific variability in tomato plants (Solanum section Lycopersicon). Mol Genet Genomics 292, 1123–1138 (2017).

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  • Vacuolar invertase
  • TAI
  • Solanum section Lycopersicon
  • Wild tomato species