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Differential gene expression in ripening banana fruit

Clendennen, S.K., May, G.D.
Plant physiology 1997 v.115 no.2 pp. 463-469
Musa acuminata, ripening, developmental stages, ethylene, biosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, starch, sugars, degradation, protein synthesis, plant proteins, senescence, glycogen (starch) synthase, chitinase, lectins, metallothionein, beta-glucanase, peroxidases, genetic code, gene expression, messenger RNA, clones, screening, nucleotide sequences, cell wall components, transcription (genetics), ascorbate peroxidase, stress response
During banana (Musa acuminata L.) fruit ripening ethylene production triggers a developmental cascade that is accompanied by a massive conversion of starch to sugars, an associated burst of respiratory activity, and an increase in protein synthesis. Differential screening of cDNA libraries representing banana pulp at ripening stages 1 and 3 has led to the isolation of 11 nonredundant groups of differentially expressed mRNAs. Identification of these transcripts by partial sequence analysis indicates that two of the mRNAs encode proteins involved in carbohydrate metabolism, whereas others encode proteins thought to be associated with pathogenesis, senescence, or stress responses in plants. Their relative abundance in the pulp and tissue-specific distribution in greenhouse-grown banana plants were determined by northern-blot analyses. The relative abundance of transcripts encoding starch synthase, granule-bound starch synthase, chitinase, lectin, and a type-2 metallothionein decreased in pulp during ripening. Transcripts encoding endochitinase, beta-1 ,3-glucanase, a thaumatin-like protein, ascorbate peroxidase, metallothionein, and a putative senescence-related protein increased early in ripening. The elucidation of the molecular events associated with banana ripening will facilitate a better understanding and control of these processes, and will allow us to attain our long-term goal of producing candidate oral vaccines in transgenic banana plants.