- Radicle protrusion from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seeds to complete germination requires weakening of the endosperm tissue opposite the radicle tip. In common with other cell wall disassembly processes in plants, polygalacturonases (PGs) may be involved. Only calcium-dependent exo-PG activity was detected in tomato seed protein extracts. Chromatographic profiles of a partially acid-hydrolyzed fraction of polygalacturonic acid further digested with seed extract were consistent with the presence of only calcium-dependent exo-PG activity. In addition, a transcript encoding a previously unknown PG was detected prior to the completion of germination. The mRNA, produced from a gene (LeXPG1) estimated by Southern analysis to be represented once in the genome, was also present in flowers (anthers) and in lower amounts in roots and stems. LeXPG1 mRNA abundance was low during seed development, increased during imbibition, and was even greater in seeds that had completed germination. Expression of LeXPG1 during germination predominates in the endosperm cap and radicle tip, and in the radicle appears as a distinct band possibly associated with vascular tissue differentiation. We suggest that PG is involved in cell wall loosening of the endosperm necessary for radicle protrusion from tomato seeds and in subsequent embryo and seedling growth.