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Carotenoid Accumulation in Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume Siebold & Zucc.): Molecular Analysis of Carotenogenic Gene Expression and Ethylene Regulation

Kita, M., Kato, M., Ban, Y., Honda, C., Yaegaki, H., Ikoma, Y., Moriguchi, T.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2007 v.55 no.9 pp. 3414-3420
Prunus mume, fruits (plant anatomy), carotenoids, biosynthesis, ripening, enzymes, genes, gene expression, gene expression regulation, messenger RNA, postharvest physiology, ethylene, propylene, cultivars
To elucidate the regulatory mechanisms of carotenogenesis in Japanese apricot (Prunus mume Siebold & Zucc.), the relationships between carotenoid accumulation and the expression of the carotenogenic genes, phytoene synthase (PmPSY-1), phytoene desaturase (PmPDS), xi-carotene desaturase (PmZDS), lycopene β-cyclase (PmLCYb), lycopene epsilon-cyclase (PmLCYe), β-carotene hydroxylase (PmHYb), and zeaxanthin epoxidase (PmZEP), were analyzed in two cultivars with different ripening traits, 'Orihime' and 'Nanko.' In 'Orihime' fruits, large amounts of carotenoids accumulated on the tree, concomitant with the induction of PmPSY-1 and the downstream carotenogenic genes PmLCYb, PmHYb, and PmZEP. In 'Nanko' fruits, carotenoids accumulated mainly after harvest, correlating with an appreciable induction of PmPSY-1 expression, but the downstream genes were not notably induced, which may explain the lower total carotenoid content in 'Nanko' than in 'Orihime.' In both cultivars, a decrease in PmLCYe expression and increased or constant PmLCYb expression could cause the metabolic shift from β,epsilon-carotenoid synthesis to β,β-carotenoid synthesis that occurs as ripening approaches. Next, the effects of ethylene on the expression of PmPSY-1 and carotenoid accumulation were investigated in 'Nanko' fruits treated with propylene or 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP). Propylene treatment induced both ethylene production and carotenoid accumulation. PmPSY-1 was constitutively expressed, but propylene treatment accelerated its induction. 1-MCP treatment caused a slight inhibition of carotenoid accumulation along with the repression, although not complete, of PmPSY-1. Collectively, although PmPSY-1 expression was not exclusively regulated by ethylene, both the notable induction of PmPSY-1 accelerated by ethylene and the subsequent induction of the downstream carotenogenic genes, especially PmLCYb, could be necessary for the massive carotenoid accumulation that occurs during ripening. Furthermore, the switch from PmLCYe expression to PmLCYb expression could cause β,β-carotenoid accumulation in both Japanese apricot cultivars.