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Calcium- and hormone-driven regulation of secondary metabolism and cell wall enzymes in grape berry cells

Martins, Viviana, Garcia, Ana, Costa, Cátia, Sottomayor, Mariana, Gerós, Hernâni
Journal of plant physiology 2018 v.231 pp. 57-67
abscisic acid, anthocyanins, biochemical mechanisms, biochemical pathways, biosynthesis, biotic stress, branches, calcium, calcium chloride, cell growth, cell suspension culture, cell walls, crosslinking, fruit quality, fruits, grapes, hormones, jasmonic acid, metabolites, methyl jasmonate, molecular biology, pectinesterase, pectins, phenolic compounds, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, polygalacturonase, second messengers, shelf life, transporters, trihydroxystilbene synthase, vacuoles, viability, wine quality
The efficacy of calcium sprays for improving fleshy fruit resistance to abiotic/biotic stress and enhancement of fruit shelf life has increasingly been explored. However, because calcium is a powerful secondary messenger in many signaling pathways, including those driven by abscisic acid (ABA) and jasmonates, it may interfere with the biosynthesis of specialized metabolites highly important for fruit and wine quality, such as phenolic compounds. In this study, a combination of biochemical and molecular biology approaches were applied to grape cell cultures and detached grape berries, in order to investigate the effect of calcium in the modulation of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of phenolic compounds and in cell wall organization. Concentrations up to 10 mM CaCl2 did not affect cell growth, size or viability, but triggered modifications in total phenolics content, particularly in anthocyanin levels in grape cell suspensions. The effects of calcium applied alone or in combination with ABA or methyl jasmonate (MeJA) were visible in several branches of specialized metabolic pathways, confirming that the calcium-hormone interplay regulates the expression of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), stilbene synthase (STS), dihydroflavonol reductase (DFR) and UDP-glucose:flavonoid 3-O-glucosyltransferase (UFGT). The activity of PAL and UFGT enzymes was also specifically modulated by calcium, ABA and MeJA. These results closely correlated to the modifications observed in the expression of VvAM1 and VvABCC1 encoding vacuolar anthocyanin transporters. Modulation of the expression and activity of pectin methyl esterases (PME) and polygalacturonases (PG) by calcium was also evident, confirming an important role of calcium in cell wall organization via the regulation of enzyme activity, besides its well-known role in the formation of cross links between pectin molecules. Overall, this study uncovers important biochemical mechanisms induced by calcium and stress hormones on grape berries, and highlights the need to consider the consequences of calcium treatments and stress for fruit quality.