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Cell. 1992 Mar 6;68(5):955-64.

A common gene regulates pigmentation pattern in diverse plant species.

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John Innes Institute, John Innes Centre for Plant Science Research, Norwich, England.


The delila (del) gene regulates the pattern of red anthocyanin pigmentation in Antirrhinum majus plants. We describe the cloning of the del locus by transposon tagging and show that it encodes a protein with extensive homology to products of the R gene family, which regulates pigmentation in maize. This shows that in spite of the many differences in morphology and coloration between maize and Antirrhinum, the control of pigmentation pattern is mediated by a common regulator. The del and R products contain a region similar to the conserved domain of the helix-loop-helix family of transcription factors. In situ hybridization and RNA analysis show that the expression of del correlates with the distribution of anthocyanins in the flowers. We discuss the implications of these findings for the evolution of regulatory networks.

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