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Plant J. 2008 Oct;56(2):316-326. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03597.x. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

AtMYB12 regulates caffeoyl quinic acid and flavonol synthesis in tomato: expression in fruit results in very high levels of both types of polyphenol.

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John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK,China-UK HUST-RRes Genetic Engineering and Genomics Joint Laboratory, College of Life Science and Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430073, China,Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Cotney, Norwich, NR4 7UA, UK, andDepartment of Biology, Bielefeld University, Chair of Genome Research (Lehrstuhl für Genomforschung), D-33594 Bielefeld, Germany.


Plant polyphenolics exhibit a broad spectrum of health-promoting effects when consumed as part of the diet, and there is considerable interest in enhancing the levels of these bioactive molecules in plants used as foods. AtMYB12 was originally identified as a flavonol-specific transcriptional activator in Arabidopsis thaliana, and this has been confirmed by ectopic expression in tobacco. AtMYB12 is able to induce the expression of additional target genes in tobacco, leading to the accumulation of very high levels of flavonols. When expressed in a tissue-specific manner in tomato, AtMYB12 activates the caffeoyl quinic acid biosynthetic pathway, in addition to the flavonol biosynthetic pathway, an activity which probably mirrors that of the orthologous MYB12-like protein in tomato. As a result of its broad specificity for transcriptional activation in tomato, AtMYB12 can be used to produce fruit with extremely high levels of multiple polyphenolic anti-oxidants. Our data indicate that transcription factors may have different specificities for target genes in different plants, which is of significance when designing strategies to improve metabolite accumulation and the anti-oxidant capacity of foods.

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