PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 3 mediates light-dependent induction of tocopherol biosynthesis during tomato fruit ripening

Giovanna Gramegna, Daniele Rosado, Ana Paula Sánchez Carranza, Aline Bertinatto Cruz, Miguel Simon-Moya, Briardo Llorente, Manuel Rodríguez-Concepcíon, Luciano Freschi, Magdalena Rossi*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    Tocopherols are important antioxidants exclusively produced in plastids that protect the photosynthetic apparatus from oxidative stress. These compounds with vitamin E activity are also essential dietary nutrients for humans. Although the tocopherol biosynthetic pathway has been elucidated, the mechanisms that regulate tocopherol production and accumulation remain elusive. Here, we investigated the regulatory mechanism underlying tocopherol biosynthesis during ripening in tomato fruits, which are an important source of vitamin E. Our results show that ripening under light conditions increases tocopherol fruit content in a phytochrome-dependent manner by the transcriptional regulation of biosynthetic genes. Moreover, we show that light-controlled expression of the GERANYLGERANYL DIPHOSPHATE REDUCTASE (SlGGDR) gene, responsible for the synthesis of the central tocopherol precursor phytyl diphosphate, is mediated by PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 3 (SlPIF3). In the absence of light, SlPIF3 physically interacts with the promoter of SlGGDR, down-regulating its expression. By contrast, light activation of phytochromes prevents the interaction between SlPIF3 and the SlGGDR promoter, leading to transcriptional derepression and higher availability of the PDP precursor for tocopherol biosynthesis. The unraveled mechanism provides a new strategy to manipulate fruit metabolism towards improving tomato nutritional quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1328-1339
    Number of pages12
    JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


    • geranylgeranyl diphosphate reductase
    • light
    • methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway
    • phytochrome-interacting factor
    • Solanum lycopersicum
    • tocopherol


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