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ERF4 affects fruit ripening by acting as a JAZ interactor between ethylene and jasmonic acid hormone signaling pathways
Horticultural Plant Journal  (IF4.24),  Pub Date : 2022-01-13, DOI: 10.1016/j.hpj.2022.01.002
Yanan Hu, Hualin Sun, Zhenyun Han, Shuai Wang, Ting Wang, Qiqi Li, Ji Tian, Yi Wang, Xinzhong Zhang, Xuefeng Xu, Zhenhai Han, Ting Wu

The regulation of apple (Malus domestica) fruit texture during ripening is complex and a fundamental determinant of its commercial quality. In climacteric fruit, ripening-related processes are regulated by ethylene (ET), and jasmonate (JA) is also involved in the ethylene biosynthesis pathway, mainly through the transcription factor MYC2. However, the molecular genetic mechanism for fruit ripening processes between the JA and ET signaling pathways still needs to be elucidated. In order to explore how JA regulates apple fruit ripening through ERF4, we used ‘Gala’ and ‘Ralls Janet’ fruit at different developmental stages as experimental materials to determine the fruit firmness and related gene expression analysis. Meanwhile, we carried out different hormone treatments on ‘Gala’ fruit at ripening stage. Here, we show that ERF4 is a core JA signaling hub protein JASMONATE ZIM-DOMAIN (JAZ) interactor that affects ethylene signaling pathways. During fruit development, ERF4 represses the expression of ACS1 and ACO1 by interacting with JAZ, as well as with the JA-activated transcription factor MYC2. Ripening is promoted in JAZ-suppressed apples. Thus, ERF4 acts as a molecular link between ethylene and JA hormone signals, and the natural variation of the ERF4 Ethylene-responsive binding factor-associated amphiphilic repression (EAR) motif decreases repression of ethylene biosynthesis genes.