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Plant Physiol. 2013 Oct;163(2):682-95. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.223297. Epub 2013 Aug 21.

Enzymatic formation of β-citraurin from β-cryptoxanthin and Zeaxanthin by carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase4 in the flavedo of citrus fruit.

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Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Shizuoka University, Suruga, Shizuoka 422-8529, Japan.


In this study, the pathway of β-citraurin biosynthesis, carotenoid contents and the expression of genes related to carotenoid metabolism were investigated in two varieties of Satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu), Yamashitabeni-wase, which accumulates β-citraurin predominantly, and Miyagawa-wase, which does not accumulate β-citraurin. The results suggested that CitCCD4 (for Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenase4) was a key gene contributing to the biosynthesis of β-citraurin. In the flavedo of Yamashitabeni-wase, the expression of CitCCD4 increased rapidly from September, which was consistent with the accumulation of β-citraurin. In the flavedo of Miyagawa-wase, the expression of CitCCD4 remained at an extremely low level during the ripening process, which was consistent with the absence of β-citraurin. Functional analysis showed that the CitCCD4 enzyme exhibited substrate specificity. It cleaved β-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin at the 7,8 or 7',8' position. But other carotenoids tested in this study (lycopene, α-carotene, β-carotene, all-trans-violaxanthin, and 9-cis-violaxanthin) were not cleaved by the CitCCD4 enzyme. The cleavage of β-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin by CitCCD4 led to the formation of β-citraurin. Additionally, with ethylene and red light-emitting diode light treatments, the gene expression of CitCCD4 was up-regulated in the flavedo of Yamashitabeni-wase. These increases in the expression of CitCCD4 were consistent with the accumulation of β-citraurin in the two treatments. These results might provide new strategies to improve the carotenoid contents and compositions of citrus fruits.

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