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We have characterized a novel small heat shock protein gene, viscosity 1 (vis1) from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and provide evidence that it plays a role in pectin depolymerization and juice viscosity in ripening fruits. Expression of vis1 is negatively associated with juice viscosity in diverse tomato genotypes. vis1 exhibits DNA polymorphism among tomato genotypes, and the alleles vis1-hta (high-transcript accumulator; accession no. AY128101) and vis1-lta (low transcript accumulator; accession no. AY128102) are associated with thinner and thicker juice, respectively. Segregation of tomato lines heterogeneous for vis1 alleles indicates that vis1 influences pectin depolymerization and juice viscosity in ripening fruits. vis1 is regulated by fruit ripening and high temperature and exhibits a typical heat shock protein chaperone function when expressed in bacterial cells. We propose that VIS1 contributes to physiochemical properties of juice, including pectin depolymerization, by reducing thermal denaturation of depolymerizing enzymes during daytime elevated temperatures.

Original publication




Journal article


Plant Physiol

Publication Date





725 - 735


Acclimatization, Alleles, Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, DNA, Plant, Escherichia coli, Fruit, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Heat-Shock Proteins, Hot Temperature, Lycopersicon esculentum, Molecular Sequence Data, Multigene Family, Pectins, Phenotype, Phylogeny, Plant Proteins, Polygalacturonase, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Protein Denaturation, Recombinant Proteins, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Viscosity