TRANSPARENT TESTA1 interacts with R2R3-MYB factors and affects early and late steps of flavonoid biosynthesis in the endothelium of Arabidopsis thaliana seeds

Ingo Appelhagen, Gui-Hua Lu, Gunnar Huep, Elmon Schmelzer, Bernd Weisshaar, Martin Sagasser
Plant Journal 2011, 67 (3): 406-19
Wild type seed coats of Arabidopsis thaliana are brown due to the accumulation of proanthocyanidin pigments (PAs). The pigmentation requires activation of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis genes and mutations in some of these genes cause a yellow appearance of seeds, termed transparent testa (tt) phenotype. The TT1 gene encodes a WIP-type zinc finger protein and is expressed in the seed coat endothelium where most of the PAs accumulate in wild type plants. In this study we show that TT1 is not only required for correct expression of PA-specific genes in the seed coat, but also affects CHS, encoding the first enzyme of flavonoid biosynthesis. Many steps of this pathway are controlled by complexes of MYB and BHLH proteins with the WD40 factor TTG1. We demonstrate that TT1 can interact with the R2R3 MYB protein TT2 and that ectopic expression of TT2 can partially restore the lack in PA production in tt1. Reduced seed coat pigmentation was obtained using a TT1 variant lacking nuclear localisation signals. Based on our results we propose that the TT2/TT8/TTG1 regulon may also comprise early genes like CHS and discuss steps to further unravel the regulatory network controlling flavonoid accumulation in endothelium cells during A. thaliana seed development.

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