Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An R2R3 MYB transcription factor associated with regulation of the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway in Rosaceae

Kui Lin-Wang1, Karen Bolitho1, Karryn Grafton1, Anne Kortstee2, Sakuntala Karunairetnam1, Tony K McGhie3, Richard V Espley1, Roger P Hellens1 and Andrew C Allan1*

Author Affiliations

1 The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd, (Plant and Food Research), Mt Albert Research Centre, Private Bag 92169, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Wageningen UR Plant Breeding, Postbus 386, 6700 AJ, Wageningen, The Netherlands

3 Plant and Food Research, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

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BMC Plant Biology 2010, 10:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-50

Published: 21 March 2010

Abstract

Background

The control of plant anthocyanin accumulation is via transcriptional regulation of the genes encoding the biosynthetic enzymes. A key activator appears to be an R2R3 MYB transcription factor. In apple fruit, skin anthocyanin levels are controlled by a gene called MYBA or MYB1, while the gene determining fruit flesh and foliage anthocyanin has been termed MYB10. In order to further understand tissue-specific anthocyanin regulation we have isolated orthologous MYB genes from all the commercially important rosaceous species.

Results

We use gene specific primers to show that the three MYB activators of apple anthocyanin (MYB10/MYB1/MYBA) are likely alleles of each other. MYB transcription factors, with high sequence identity to the apple gene were isolated from across the rosaceous family (e.g. apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, rose, strawberry). Key identifying amino acid residues were found in both the DNA-binding and C-terminal domains of these MYBs. The expression of these MYB10 genes correlates with fruit and flower anthocyanin levels. Their function was tested in tobacco and strawberry. In tobacco, these MYBs were shown to induce the anthocyanin pathway when co-expressed with bHLHs, while over-expression of strawberry and apple genes in the crop of origin elevates anthocyanins.

Conclusions

This family-wide study of rosaceous R2R3 MYBs provides insight into the evolution of this plant trait. It has implications for the development of new coloured fruit and flowers, as well as aiding the understanding of temporal-spatial colour change.