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Insertion and excision of a transposable element governs the red floral phenotype in commercial petunias

Nakajima, T., Matsubara, K., Kodama, H., Kokubun, H., Watanabe, H., Ando, T.
Theoretical and applied genetics 2005 v.110 no.6 pp. 1038-1043
anthocyanins, stop codon, cultivars, phenotype, cyanidin, Petunia hybrida, pigmentation, polymerase chain reaction, flowers, genotype, terminal repeat sequences, transposons
Commercial cultivars of Petunia hybrida with red flowers (red petunias) accumulate cyanidin 3-glucoside as a main floral anthocyanin pigment. The conversion of anthocyanidin 3-glucosides to anthocyanidin 3-rutinosides is catalyzed by a UDP-rhamnose: anthocyanidin 3-glucoside-rhamnosyltransferase (RT). In red petunias, the RT gene is known to be disrupted by the insertion of a transposable element (dTph3). We have cloned the dTph3-like element (called dTph3-C) from a red petunia. Unlike dTph3, dTph3-C harbored a perfect terminal inverted repeat. In addition, an excision product (so-called “footprint”) of dTph3/dTph3-C was found in another red petunia. The RT transcripts harboring this footprint could not produce the RT enzyme because a stop codon was created in the footprint sequence. The genotypes of the 42 commercial petunias which exhibit different anthocyanin pigmentation were determined by multiplex PCR. In this technique, the amplified products from normal, dTph3/dTph3-C-inserted, and footprint-retaining RT genes can be separated from one another. Our results indicate that the red-floral phenotype of commercial petunias is governed by insertion and excision events of a transposable element in the coding region of the RT gene.