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Evidence of the functional role of the ethylene receptor genes SlETR4 and SlETR5 in ethylene signal transduction in tomato


Ethylene receptors are key factors for ethylene signal transduction. In tomato, six ethylene receptor genes (SlETR1SlETR6) have been identified. Mutations in different ethylene receptor genes result in different phenotypes that are useful for elucidating the roles of each gene. In this study, we screened mutants of two ethylene receptor genes, SLETR4 and SLETR5, from a Micro-Tom mutant library generated by TILLING. We identified two ethylene receptor mutants with altered phenotypes and named them Sletr4-1 and Sletr5-1. Sletr4-1 has a mutation between the transmembrane and GAF domains, while Sletr5-1 has a mutation within the GAF domain. Sletr4-1 showed increased hypocotyl and root lengths, compared to those of wild type plants, under ethylene exposure. Moreover, the fruit shelf life of this mutant was extended, titratable acidity was increased and total soluble solids were decreased, suggesting a reduced ethylene sensitivity. In contrast, in the absence of exogenous ethylene, the hypocotyl and root lengths of Sletr5-1 were shorter than those of the wild type, and the fruit shelf life was shorter, suggesting that these mutants have increased ethylene sensitivity. Gene expression analysis showed that SlNR was up-regulated in the Sletr5-1 mutant line, in contrast to the down-regulation observed in the Sletr4-1 mutant line, while the down-regulation of SlCTR1, SlEIN2, SlEIL1, SlEIL3, and SlERF.E4 was observed in Sletr4-1 mutant allele, suggesting that these two ethylene receptors have functional roles in ethylene signalling and demonstrating, for the first time, a function of the GAF domain of ethylene receptors. These results suggest that the Sletr4-1 and Sletr5-1 mutants are useful for elucidating the complex mechanisms of ethylene signalling through the analysis of ethylene receptors in tomato.

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We thank the National BioResearch Project (NBRP), MEXT, Japan for providing seeds from S. lycopersicum cv. Micro-Tom, Sletr4-1,and Sletr5-1. This study was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI [grant number25252008] to H.E. We also thank all members of our laboratory for their helpful discussions throughout the project.

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Correspondence to Hiroshi Ezura.

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Communicated by S. Hohmann.

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Mubarok, S., Hoshikawa, K., Okabe, Y. et al. Evidence of the functional role of the ethylene receptor genes SlETR4 and SlETR5 in ethylene signal transduction in tomato. Mol Genet Genomics 294, 301–313 (2019).

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  • Ethylene receptor
  • Gene expression
  • Mutant
  • Tomato