Indexed on: 13 Jan '12Published on: 13 Jan '12Published in: Journal of experimental botany
Three genes encoding anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) in apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.), designated MdANR1, MdANR2a, and MdANR2b, have been cloned and characterized. MdANR1 shows 91% identity in coding DNA sequences with MdANR2a and MdANR2b, while MdANR2a and MdANR2b are allelic and share 99% nucleotide sequence identity in the coding region. MdANR1 and MdANR2 genes are located on linkage groups 10 and 5, respectively. Expression levels of both MdANR1 and MdANR2 genes are generally higher in yellow-skinned cv. Golden Delicious than in red-skinned cv. Red Delicious. Transcript accumulation of MdANR1 and MdANR2 genes in fruits gradually decreased throughout fruit development. Ectopic expression of apple MdANR genes in tobacco positively and negatively regulates the biosynthesis of proanthocyanidins (PAs) and anthocyanin, respectively, resulting in white, pale pink-coloured, and white/red variegated flowers. The accumulation of anthocyanin is significantly reduced in all tobacco transgenic flowers, while catechin and epicatechin contents in transgenic flowers are significantly higher than those in flowers of wild-type plants. The inhibition of anthocyanin synthesis in tobacco transgenic flowers overexpressing MdANR genes is probably attributed to down-regulation of CHALCONE ISOMERASE (CHI) and DIHYDROFLAVONOL-4-REDUCTASE (DFR) genes involved in the anthocyanin pathway. Interestingly, several transgenic lines show no detectable transcripts of the gene encoding leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) in flowers, but accumulate higher levels of catechin in flowers of transgenic plants than those of wild-type plants. This finding suggests that the ANR gene may be capable of generating catechin via an alternative route, although this mechanism is yet to be further elucidated.