Since its discovery more than 100 years ago, potato (Solanum tuberosum) tuber cold-induced sweetening (CIS) has been extensively investigated. Several carbohydrate-associated genes would seem to be involved in the process. However, many uncertainties still exist, as the relative contribution of each gene to the process is often unclear, possibly as the consequence of the heterogeneity of experimental systems. Some enzymes associated with CIS, such as β-amylases and invertases, have still to be identified at a sequence level. In addition, little is known about the early events that trigger CIS and on the involvement/association with CIS of genes different from carbohydrate-associated genes. Many of these uncertainties could be resolved by profiling experiments, but no GeneChip is available for the potato, and the production of the potato cDNA spotted array (TIGR) has recently been discontinued. In order to obtain an overall picture of early transcriptional events associated with CIS, we investigated whether the commercially-available tomato Affymetrix GeneChip could be used to identify which potato cold-responsive gene family members should be further studied in detail by Real-Time (RT)-PCR (qPCR).
A tomato-potato Global Match File was generated for the interpretation of various aspects of the heterologous dataset, including the retrieval of best matching potato counterparts and annotation, and the establishment of a core set of highly homologous genes. Several cold-responsive genes were identified, and their expression pattern was studied in detail by qPCR over 26 days. We detected biphasic behaviour of mRNA accumulation for carbohydrate-associated genes and our combined GeneChip-qPCR data identified, at a sequence level, enzymatic activities such as β-amylases and invertases previously reported as being involved in CIS. The GeneChip data also unveiled important processes accompanying CIS, such as the induction of redox- and ethylene-associated genes.
Our Global Match File strategy proved critical for accurately interpretating heterologous datasets, and suggests that similar approaches may be fruitful for other species. Transcript profiling of early events associated with CIS revealed a complex network of events involving sugars, redox and hormone signalling which may be either linked serially or act in parallel. The identification, at a sequence level, of various enzymes long known as having a role in CIS provides molecular tools for further understanding the phenomenon.