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Plant Cell. 2014 Mar;26(3):962-80. doi: 10.1105/tpc.113.122069. Epub 2014 Mar 18.

A conserved network of transcriptional activators and repressors regulates anthocyanin pigmentation in eudicots.

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The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited, Private Bag 11-600, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Plants require sophisticated regulatory mechanisms to ensure the degree of anthocyanin pigmentation is appropriate to myriad developmental and environmental signals. Central to this process are the activity of MYB-bHLH-WD repeat (MBW) complexes that regulate the transcription of anthocyanin genes. In this study, the gene regulatory network that regulates anthocyanin synthesis in petunia (Petunia hybrida) has been characterized. Genetic and molecular evidence show that the R2R3-MYB, MYB27, is an anthocyanin repressor that functions as part of the MBW complex and represses transcription through its C-terminal EAR motif. MYB27 targets both the anthocyanin pathway genes and basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) ANTHOCYANIN1 (AN1), itself an essential component of the MBW activation complex for pigmentation. Other features of the regulatory network identified include inhibition of AN1 activity by the competitive R3-MYB repressor MYBx and the activation of AN1, MYB27, and MYBx by the MBW activation complex, providing for both reinforcement and feedback regulation. We also demonstrate the intercellular movement of the WDR protein (AN11) and R3-repressor (MYBx), which may facilitate anthocyanin pigment pattern formation. The fundamental features of this regulatory network in the Asterid model of petunia are similar to those in the Rosid model of Arabidopsis thaliana and are thus likely to be widespread in the Eudicots.

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