Integrated bioinformatics to decipher the ascorbic acid metabolic network in tomato

Full Title: Integrated bioinformatics to decipher the ascorbic acid metabolic network in tomato

Journal: Plant molecular biology

Year of Publication: 2016

PHHI Author(s): Hamed Bostan
Publication Author(s): Valentino Ruggieri, Hamed Bostan, Amalia Barone, Luigi Frusciante, Maria Luisa Chiusano


Ascorbic acid is involved in a plethora of reactions in both plant and animal metabolism. It plays an essential role neutralizing free radicals and acting as enzyme co-factor in several reaction. Since humans are ascorbate auxotrophs, enhancing the nutritional quality of a widely consumed vegetable like tomato is a desirable goal. Although the main reactions of the ascorbate biosynthesis, recycling and translocation pathways have been characterized, the assignment of tomato genes to each enzymatic step of the entire network has never been reported to date. By integrating bioinformatics approaches, omics resources and transcriptome collections today available for tomato, this study provides an overview on the architecture of the ascorbate pathway. In particular, 237 tomato loci were associated with the different enzymatic steps of the network, establishing the first comprehensive reference collection of candidate genes based on the recently released tomato gene annotation. The co-expression analyses performed by using RNA-Seq data supported the functional investigation of main expression patterns for the candidate genes and highlighted a coordinated spatial-temporal regulation of genes of the different pathways across tissues and developmental stages. Taken together these results provide evidence of a complex interplaying mechanism and highlight the pivotal role of functional related genes. The definition of genes contributing to alternative pathways and their expression profiles corroborates previous hypothesis on mechanisms of accumulation of ascorbate in the later stages of fruit ripening. Results and evidences here provided may facilitate the development of novel strategies for biofortification of tomato fruit with Vitamin C and offer an example framework for similar studies concerning other metabolic pathways and species.

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