JOURNAL ARTICLE

An apple MYB transcription factor, MdMYB3, is involved in regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis and flower development

Sornkanok Vimolmangkang, Yuepeng Han, Guochao Wei, Schuyler S Korban
BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13: 176
24199943

BACKGROUND: Red coloration of fruit is an important trait in apple, and it is mainly attributed to the accumulation of anthocyanins, a class of plant flavonoid metabolites. Anthocyanin biosynthesis is genetically determined by structural and regulatory genes. Plant tissue pigmentation patterns are mainly controlled by expression profiles of regulatory genes. Among these regulatory genes are MYB transcription factors (TFs), wherein the class of two-repeats (R2R3) is deemed the largest, and these are associated with the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway. Although three MdMYB genes, almost identical in nucleotide sequences, have been identified in apple, it is likely that there are other R2R3 MYB TFs that are present in the apple genome that are also involved in the regulation of coloration of red color pigmentation of the skin of apple fruits.

RESULTS: In this study, a novel R2R3 MYB gene has been isolated and characterized in apple. This MYB gene is closely related to the Arabidopsis thaliana AtMYB3, and has been designated as MdMYB3. This TF belongs to the subgroup 4 R2R3 family of plant MYB transcription factors. This apple MdMYB3 gene is mapped onto linkage group 15 of the integrated apple genetic map. Transcripts of MdMYB3 are detected in all analyzed tissues including leaves, flowers, and fruits. However, transcripts of MdMYB3 are higher in excocarp of red-skinned apple cultivars than that in yellowish-green skinned apple cultivars. When this gene is ectopically expressed in Nicotiana tabacum cv. Petite Havana SR1, flowers of transgenic tobacco lines carrying MdMYB3 have exhibited increased pigmentation and accumulate higher levels of anthocyanins and flavonols than wild-type flowers. Overexpression of MdMYB3 has resulted in transcriptional activation of several flavonoid pathway genes, including CHS, CHI, UFGT, and FLS. Moreover, peduncles of flowers and styles of pistils of transgenic plants overexpressing MdMYB3 are longer than those of wild-type plants, thus suggesting that this TF is involved in regulation of flower development.

CONCLUSIONS: This study has identified a novel MYB transcription factor in the apple genome. This TF, designated as MdMYB3, is involved in transcriptional activation of several flavonoid pathway genes. Moreover, this TF not only regulates the accumulation of anthocyanin in the skin of apple fruits, but it is also involved in the regulation of flower development, particularly that of pistil development.

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