JOURNAL ARTICLE

The purple cauliflower arises from activation of a MYB transcription factor

Li-Wei Chiu, Xiangjun Zhou, Sarah Burke, Xianli Wu, Ronald L Prior, Li Li
Plant Physiology 2010, 154 (3): 1470-80
20855520
Anthocyanins are responsible for the color of many flowers, fruits, and vegetables. An interesting and unique Purple (Pr) gene mutation in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var botrytis) confers an abnormal pattern of anthocyanin accumulation, giving the striking mutant phenotype of intense purple color in curds and a few other tissues. To unravel the nature of the Pr mutation in cauliflower, we isolated the Pr gene via a combination of candidate gene analysis and fine mapping. Pr encoded a R2R3 MYB transcription factor that exhibited tissue-specific expression, consistent with an abnormal anthocyanin accumulation pattern in the mutant. Transgenic Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and cauliflower plants expressing the Pr-D allele recapitulated the mutant phenotype, confirming the isolation of the Pr gene. Up-regulation of Pr specifically activated a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor and a subset of anthocyanin structural genes encoding flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase, dihydroflavonol 4-reductase, and leucoanthocyanidin dioxygenase to confer ectopic accumulation of pigments in the purple cauliflower. Our results indicate that the genetic variation including a Harbinger DNA transposon insertion in the upstream regulatory region of the Pr-D allele is responsible for the up-regulation of the Pr gene in inducing phenotypic change in the plant. The successful isolation of Pr provides important information on the regulatory control of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Brassica vegetables, and offers a genetic resource for development of new varieties with enhanced health-promoting properties and visual appeal.

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