The 186 aa truncated protein produced by the tomato spontaneous non-ripening ( nor) mutant enters the nucleus and combines with the promoters of its target genes, resulting in a gain of function.
The tomato non-ripening ( nor) mutant generates a truncated 186-amino-acid protein (NOR186) and has been demonstrated previously to be a gain-of-function mutant. Here, we provide more evidence to support this view and answer the open question of whether the NAC-NOR gene is important in fruit ripening. Overexpression of NAC- NOR in the nor mutant did not restore the full ripening phenotype. Further analysis showed that the truncated NOR186 protein is located in the nucleus and binds to but does not activate the promoters of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase2 ( SlACS2), geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase2 ( SlGgpps2), and pectate lyase ( SlPL), which are involved in ethylene biosynthesis, carotenoid accumulation, and fruit softening, respectively. The activation of the promoters by the wild-type NOR protein can be inhibited by the mutant NOR186 protein. On the other hand, ethylene synthesis, carotenoid accumulation, and fruit softening were significantly inhibited in CR-NOR (CRISPR/Cas9-edited NAC-NOR) fruit compared with the wild-type, but much less severely affected than in the nor mutant, while they were accelerated in OE-NOR (overexpressed NAC-NOR) fruit. These data further indicated that nor is a gain-of-function mutation and NAC-NOR plays a significant role in ripening of wild-type fruit.