Polygalacturonase gene family analysis identifies FcPG12 as a key player in fig (Ficus carica L.) fruit softening

Yuan Wang, Zhiyi Fan, Yanlei Zhai, Hantang Huang, Alexander Vainstein, Huiqin Ma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The fig (Ficus carica L.) tree has high economic value. However, its fruit have a short shelf life due to rapid softening. Polygalacturonases (PGs) are essential hydrolases, responsible for the pectin degradation that plays a key role in fruit softening. However, fig PG genes and their regulators have not yet been characterized. Results: In this study, 43 FcPGs were identified in the fig genome. They were non-uniformly distributed on 13 chromosomes, and tandem repeat PG gene clusters were found on chromosomes 4 and 5. Ka/Ks calculation and collinear analysis indicated negative selection as the main driver of FcPG family expansion. Fourteen FcPGs were found expressed in fig fruit with FPKM values > 10, of which seven were positively correlated, and three, negatively correlated with fruit softening. Eleven FcPGs were upregulated and two downregulated in response to ethephon treatment. FcPG12, a member of the tandem repeat cluster on chromosome 4, was selected for further analyses due to its sharp increment in transcript abundance during fruit softening and its response to ethephon treatment. Transient overexpression of FcPG12 led to decreased fig fruit firmness and increased PG enzyme activity in the tissue. Two ethylene response factor (ERF)-binding GCC-box sites were found on the FcPG12 promoter. Yeast one-hybrid and dual luciferase assays showed that FcERF5 binds directly to the FcPG12 promoter and upregulates its expression. Transient overexpression of FcERF5 upregulated FcPG12 expression, thereby increasing PG activity and fruit softening. Conclusions: Our study identified FcPG12 as a key PG gene in fig fruit softening, and its direct positive regulation by FcERF5. The results provide new information on the molecular regulation of fig fruit softening.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number320
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Ethylene response factor
  • Expression
  • Fig (Ficus carica L.)
  • Fruit softening
  • Polygalacturonase gene family


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