Silencing of the Target of Rapamycin Complex Genes Stimulates Tomato Fruit Ripening

Ilyeong Choi, Chang Sook Ahn, Du Hwa Lee, Seung A. Baek, Jung Won Jung, Jae Kwang Kim, Ho Seok Lee, Hyun Sook Pai

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The target of rapamycin complex (TORC) plays a key role in plant cell growth and survival by regulating the gene expression and metabolism according to environmental information. TORC activates transcription, mRNA translation, and anabolic processes under favorable conditions, thereby promoting plant growth and development. Tomato fruit ripening is a complex developmental process promoted by ethylene and specific transcription factors. TORC is known to modulate leaf senescence in tomato. In this study, we investigated the function of TORC in tomato fruit ripening using virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of the TORC genes, TOR, lethal with SEC13 protein 8 (LST8), and regulatory-associated protein of TOR (RAPTOR). Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed that the expression levels of tomato TORC genes were the highest in the orange stage during fruit development in Micro-Tom tomato. VIGS of these TORC genes using stage 2 tomato accelerated fruit ripening with premature orange/red coloring and decreased fruit growth, when control tobacco rattle virus 2 (TRV2)-myc fruits reached the mature green stage. TORC-deficient fruits showed early accumulation of carotenoid lycopene and reduced cellulose deposition in pericarp cell walls. The early ripening fruits had higher levels of transcripts related to fruit ripening transcription factors, ethylene biosynthesis, carotenoid synthesis, and cell wall modification. Finally, the early ripening phenotype in Micro-Tom tomato was reproduced in the commercial cultivar Moneymaker tomato by VIGS of the TORC genes. Collectively, these results demonstrate that TORC plays an important role in tomato fruit ripening by modulating the transcription of various ripening-related genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-672
Number of pages13
JournalMolecules and cells
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sep 30

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program (2018R1A6A1A03025607) and the Mid-Career Researcher Program (2022R1A2C1009088) from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of the Republic of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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