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Plant Cell. 2004 Jul;16(7):1812-26. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

A multidrug resistance-associated protein involved in anthocyanin transport in Zea mays.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305-5020, USA.


Anthocyanin biosynthesis is one of the most thoroughly studied enzymatic pathways in biology, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms of its final stage: the transport of the anthocyanin pigment into the vacuole. We have identified a multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP), ZmMrp3, that is required for this transport process in maize (Zea mays). ZmMrp3 expression is controlled by the regulators of anthocyanin biosynthesis and mirrors the expression of other anthocyanin structural genes. Localization of ZmMRP3 in vivo shows its presence in the tonoplast, the site at which anthocyanin transport occurs. Mutants generated using antisense constructs have a distinct pigmentation phenotype in the adult plant that results from a mislocalization of the pigment as well as significant reduction in anthocyanin content, with no alteration in the anthocyanin species produced. Surprisingly, mutant plants did not show a phenotype in the aleurone. This appears to reflect the presence of a second, highly homologous gene, ZmMrp4, that is also coregulated with the anthocyanin pathway but is expressed exclusively in aleurone tissue. This description of a plant MRP with a role in the transport of a known endogenous substrate provides a new model system for examining the biological and biochemical mechanisms involved in the MRP-mediated transport of plant secondary metabolites.

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