Received: 22 Mar 2020 Revised: 22 Jul 2020 Accepted: 27 Jul 2020 Published online: 01 Oct 2020
Sucrose metabolism, particularly the decomposition of sucrose by invertase, plays a central role in plant responses to cold stress. Invertase inhibitors (INHs) evolved in higher plants as essential regulators of sucrose metabolism. By limiting invertase activity, INHs keep cellular sugar levels elevated, which provides enhanced protection to plants under stress. Our results showed that the expression of PpVIN2, the only vacuolar invertase (VIN) gene in peach fruit sensitive to chilling temperatures, increases significantly during cold storage, while VIN enzyme activity increases more modestly. We also found that peach fruit transiently overexpressing PpINH1 had decreased VIN activity. Interactions of PpINH1 and PpVIN2 with recombinant proteins were shown by yeast two-hybrid assays and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays, as well as in vitro. During cold storage, trehalose-treated peach fruit had significantly increased PpINH1 expression, decreased VIN enzyme activity, and significantly higher sucrose content than did untreated fruit. As a result, the treated fruit had enhanced resistance to chilling injury. Collectively, our data show that the post-translational repression of VIN enzyme activity by PpINH1 helps maintain sucrose levels in peach fruit during cold storage, thereby improving resistance to chilling injury.