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MdMYBL2 helps regulate cytokinin-induced anthocyanin biosynthesis in red-fleshed apple (Malus sieversii f. niedzwetzkyana) callus

Wang, Yicheng, Sun, Jingjing, Wang, Nan, Xu, Haifeng, Qu, Changzhi, Jiang, Shenghui, Fang, Hongcheng, Su, Mengyu, Zhang, Zongying, Chen, Xuesen
Functional plant biology 2019 v.46 no.2 pp. 187-196
Malus sieversii, anthocyanins, apples, biosynthesis, callus, cytokinins, fluorescence, gene expression regulation, genetically modified organisms, homozygosity, hybrids, leaves, progeny, structural genes, transcription factors, two hybrid system techniques
Anthocyanin biosynthesis is induced by cytokinins, and is regulated by MYB transcription factors. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms have not been fully characterised. In the present study, red-fleshed apple callus were induced from the leaves of an R6/R6 homozygous line, which was the hybrid offspring of Malus sieversii f. niedzwetzkyana and ‘Fuji’. We analysed the callus anthocyanin contents in response to different cytokinin concentrations. We observed that cytokinin treatments upregulated the expression of anthocyanin structural genes MdDFR and MdUFGT and transcription factor genes MdMYB10 and MdbHLH3. Additionally, the expression of MdMYBL2, which encodes the bHLH and EAR motifs, was inhibited by cytokinin treatments. The MdMYBL2-overexpressing callus had lower anthocyanin contents than the wild-type controls. We noted that the expression levels of anthocyanin biosynthesis structural genes MdDFR and MdUFGT and transcription factor genes MdMYB10 and MdbHLH3 were strongly suppressed in the transgenic callus. Subsequent yeast two-hybrid, bimolecular fluorescence complementation, and pull-down assays indicated that MdMYBL2 interacts with MdbHLH3, which may influence the expression of anthocyanin biosynthesis-related genes. Our findings may provide new insights into how MYB transcription factors influence the cytokinin-regulated anthocyanin biosynthesis in red-fleshed apples.