A number of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been revealed to have roles in biological processes. However, the biological functions of most plant lncRNAs are still unknown. Ran Li of China Agricultural University previously discovered a tomato ripening-related lncRNA, lncRNA1459. The team aimed to study lncRNA1459 and explain its function in tomato ripening. To fully identify the function of lncRNA1459 in tomato ripening, Li and colleagues used CRSIPR-Cas9 to develop loss-of-function mutants of lncRNA1459.
Compared with wildtype fruits, tomato ripening process was significantly repressed in lncRNA1459 mutants. Ethylene production and lycopene accumulation were also largely repressed in these mutants. Furthermore, genes related to ethylene and carotenoid biosynthesis were also downregulated in the mutants compared with wild type fruits.
Expressions of numerous ripening-related genes, including other potential tomato ripening-related lncRNAs, were specifically changed after knocking out lncRNA1459.