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1.  Expression of flavonoid 3’-hydroxylase is controlled by P1, the regulator of 3-deoxyflavonoid biosynthesis in maize 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:196.
The maize (Zea mays) red aleurone1 (pr1) encodes a CYP450-dependent flavonoid 3’-hydroxylase (ZmF3’H1) required for the biosynthesis of purple and red anthocyanin pigments. We previously showed that Zmf3’h1 is regulated by C1 (Colorless1) and R1 (Red1) transcription factors. The current study demonstrates that, in addition to its role in anthocyanin biosynthesis, the Zmf3’h1 gene also participates in the biosynthesis of 3-deoxyflavonoids and phlobaphenes that accumulate in maize pericarps, cob glumes, and silks. Biosynthesis of 3-deoxyflavonoids is regulated by P1 (Pericarp color1) and is independent from the action of C1 and R1 transcription factors.
In maize, apiforol and luteoforol are the precursors of condensed phlobaphenes. Maize lines with functional alleles of pr1 and p1 (Pr1;P1) accumulate luteoforol, while null pr1 lines with a functional or non-functional p1 allele (pr1;P1 or pr1;p1) accumulate apiforol. Apiforol lacks a hydroxyl group at the 3’-position of the flavylium B-ring, while luteoforol has this hydroxyl group. Our biochemical analysis of accumulated compounds in different pr1 genotypes showed that the pr1 encoded ZmF3’H1 has a role in the conversion of mono-hydroxylated to bi-hydroxylated compounds in the B-ring. Steady state RNA analyses demonstrated that Zmf3’h1 mRNA accumulation requires a functional p1 allele. Using a combination of EMSA and ChIP experiments, we established that the Zmf3’h1 gene is a direct target of P1. Highlighting the significance of the Zmf3’h1 gene for resistance against biotic stress, we also show here that the p1 controlled 3-deoxyanthocyanidin and C-glycosyl flavone (maysin) defence compounds accumulate at significantly higher levels in Pr1 silks as compared to pr1 silks. By virtue of increased maysin synthesis in Pr1 plants, corn ear worm larvae fed on Pr1; P1 silks showed slower growth as compared to pr1; P1 silks.
Our results show that the Zmf3’h1 gene participates in the biosynthesis of phlobaphenes and agronomically important 3-deoxyflavonoid compounds under the regulatory control of P1.
PMCID: PMC3509002  PMID: 23113982
Anthocyanins; Flavones; Flavonoids; F3’H; Maysin; Phlobaphenes
2.  Analysis of the P1 promoter in response to UV-B radiation in allelic variants of high-altitude maize 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:92.
Plants living at high altitudes are typically exposed to elevated UV-B radiation, and harbor mechanisms to prevent the induced damage, such as the accumulation of UV-absorbing compounds. The maize R2R3-MYB transcription factor P1 controls the accumulation of several UV-B absorbing phenolics by activating a subset of flavonoid biosynthetic genes in leaves of maize landraces adapted to high altitudes.
Here, we studied the UV-B regulation of P1 in maize leaves of high altitude landraces, and we investigated how UV-B regulates P1binding to the CHS promoter in both low and high altitude lines. In addition, we analyzed whether the expansion in the P1 expression domain between these maize landraces and inbred lines is associated to changes in the molecular structure of the proximal promoter, distal enhancer and first intron of P1. Finally, using transient expression experiments in protoplasts from various maize genotypes, we investigated whether the different expression patterns of P1 in the high altitude landraces could be attributed to trans- or cis-acting elements.
Together, our results demonstrate that, although differences in cis-acting elements exist between the different lines under study, the different patterns of P1 expression are largely a consequence of effects in trans.
PMCID: PMC3489873  PMID: 22702356
UV-B radiation; Maize landraces; Promoters; P1 transcription factor
3.  Light-induced morphological alteration in anthocyanin-accumulating vacuoles of maize cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2005;5:7.
Plant pigmentation is affected by a variety of factors. Light, an important plant developmental signal, influences the accumulation of anthocyanins primarily through the activation of the transcription factors that regulate the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. In this study, we utilized maize Black Mexican Sweet (BMS) cells expressing the R and C1 regulators of anthocyanin biosynthesis from a light-insensitive promoter as a means to investigate the existence of additional levels of control of pigmentation by light.
BMS cells expressing the R and C1 regulators from the CaMV 35S constitutive promoter accumulate anthocyanins when grown in complete darkness, suggesting that the transcription factors R and C1 are sufficient for the transcription of the genes corresponding to the structural enzymes of the pathway, with no requirement for additional light-induced regulators. Interestingly, light induces a "darkening" in the color of the purple anthocyanin pigmentation of transgenic BMS cells expressing R and C1. This change in the pigment hue is not associated with a variation in the levels or types of anthocyanins present, or with an alteration of the transcript levels of several flavonoid biosynthetic genes. However, cytological observations show that light drives unexpected changes in the morphology and distribution of the anthocyanins-containing vacuolar compartments.
By uncoupling the effect of light on anthocyanin accumulation, we have found light to induce the fusion of anthocyanin-containing vacuoles, the coalescence of anthocyanic vacuolar inclusion (AVI)-like structures contained, and the spread of anthocyanins from the inclusions into the vacuolar sap. Similar light-induced alterations in vacuolar morphology are also evident in the epidermal cells of maize floral whorls accumulating anthocyanins. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism for the action of light on the vacuolar storage of anthocyanin.
PMCID: PMC1177971  PMID: 15907203
4.  Comparison of ESTs from juvenile and adult phases of the giant unicellular green alga Acetabularia acetabulum 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:3.
Acetabularia acetabulum is a giant unicellular green alga whose size and complex life cycle make it an attractive model for understanding morphogenesis and subcellular compartmentalization. The life cycle of this marine unicell is composed of several developmental phases. Juvenile and adult phases are temporally sequential but physiologically and morphologically distinct. To identify genes specific to juvenile and adult phases, we created two subtracted cDNA libraries, one adult-specific and one juvenile-specific, and analyzed 941 randomly chosen ESTs from them.
Clustering analysis suggests virtually no overlap between the two libraries. Preliminary expression data also suggests that we were successful at isolating transcripts differentially expressed between the two developmental phases and that many transcripts are specific to one phase or the other. Comparison of our EST sequences against publicly available sequence databases indicates that ESTs from the adult and the juvenile libraries partition into different functional classes. Three conserved sequence elements were common to several of the ESTs and were also found within the genomic sequence of the carbonic anhydrase1 gene from A. acetabulum. To date, these conserved elements are specific to A. acetabulum.
Our data provide strong evidence that adult and juvenile phases in A. acetabulum vary significantly in gene expression. We discuss their possible roles in cell growth and morphogenesis as well as in phase change. We also discuss the potential role of the conserved elements found within the EST sequences in post-transcriptional regulation, particularly mRNA localization and/or stability.
PMCID: PMC385229  PMID: 15070428
5.  Sub-cellular trafficking of phytochemicals explored using auto-fluorescent compounds in maize cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:10.
Little is known regarding the trafficking mechanisms of small molecules within plant cells. It remains to be established whether phytochemicals are transported by pathways similar to those used by proteins, or whether the expansion of metabolic pathways in plants was associated with the evolution of novel trafficking pathways. In this paper, we exploited the induction of green and yellow auto-fluorescent compounds in maize cultured cells by the P1 transcription factor to investigate their targeting to the cell wall and vacuole, respectively.
We investigated the accumulation and sub-cellular localization of the green and yellow auto-fluorescent compounds in maize BMS cells expressing the P1 transcription factor from an estradiol inducible promoter. We established that the yellow fluorescent compounds accumulate inside the vacuole in YFBs that resemble AVIs. The green fluorescent compounds accumulate initially in the cytoplasm in large spherical GFBs. Cells accumulating GFBs also contain electron-dense structures that accumulate initially in the ER and which later appear to fuse with the plasma membrane. Structures resembling the GFBs were also observed in the periplasmic space of plasmolized cells. Ultimately, the green fluorescence accumulates in the cell wall, in a process that is insensitive to the Golgi-disturbing agents BFA and monensin.
Our results suggest the presence of at least two distinct trafficking pathways, one to the cell wall and the other to the vacuole, for different auto-fluorescent compounds induced by the same transcription factor in maize BMS cells. These compartments represent two of the major sites of accumulation of phenolic compounds characteristic of maize cells. The secretion of the green auto-fluorescent compounds occurs by a pathway that does not involve the TGN, suggesting that it is different from the secretion of most proteins, polysaccharides or epicuticular waxes. The yellow auto-fluorescent compounds accumulate in a vacuolar compartment, in structures that resemble the AVIs present in many cells accumulating anthocyanins. Together, our studies suggest that the accumulation of auto-fluorescent compounds can provide a powerful tool to dissect the trafficking of phytochemicals, knowledge necessary for the efficient engineering of plant metabolism.
PMCID: PMC324402  PMID: 14687417

Results 1-5 (5)