A complex of R2R3-MYB and bHLH transcription factors, stabilized by WD40 repeat proteins, regulates gene transcription for plant cell pigmentation and epidermal cell morphology. It is the MYB component of this complex which specifies promoter target activation. The Arabidopsis MYB TT2 regulates proanthocyanidin (PA) biosynthesis by activating the expression of ANR (anthocyanidin reductase), the gene product of which catalyzes the first committed step of this pathway. Conversely the closely related MYB PAP4 (AtMYB114) regulates the anthocyanin pathway and specifically activates UFGT (UDP-glucose:flavonoid-3-O-glucosyltransferase), encoding the first enzyme of the anthocyanin pathway. Both at the level of structural and regulatory genes, evolution of PA biosynthesis proceeded anthocyanin biosynthesis and we have identified key residues in these MYB transcription factors for the evolution of target promoter specificity. Using chimeric and point mutated variants of TT2 and PAP4 we found that exchange of a single amino acid, Gly/Arg39 in the R2 domain combined with an exchange of a four amino acid motif in the R3 domain, could swap the pathway selection of TT2 and PAP4, thereby converting in planta specificity of the PA towards the anthocyanin pathway and vice versa. The general importance of these amino acids for target specificity was also shown for the grapevine transcription factors VvMYBPA2 and VvMYBA2 which regulate PAs and anthocyanins, respectively. These results provide an insight into the evolution of the different flavonoid regulators from a common ancestral gene.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 21, 2013
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