Tomato leaf spatial expression of stress-induced Asr genes

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Asr1 and Asr2 are water stress-inducible genes belonging to the Asr gene family, which transcriptionally regulate a sugar transporter gene, at least in grape. Using an in situ RNA hybridization methodology, we determined that, in basal conditions, expression of Asr2 in tomato leaves is detected in the phloem tissue, particularly in companion phloem cells. When plants are exposed to water stress, Asr2 expression is contained in companion cells but expands occasionally to mesophyll cells. In contrast, Asr1 transcript localization seems to be sparse in leaf vascular tissue under both non-stress and stress conditions. The occurrence of Asr transcripts precisely in companion cells is in accordance with the cell type specificity reported for hexose-transporter protein molecules in grape encoded by the only Asr-target gene known to date. The results are discussed in light of the reported scarcity of plasmodesmata between companion cells and the rest of leaf tissue in the family Solanaceae.

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