The strawberry transcription factor FaMYB1 inhibits the biosynthesis of proanthocyanidins in Lotus corniculatus leaves

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1200
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2010
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Proanthocyanidins (PAs) are agronomically important biopolymers in higher plants composed primarily of catechin and epicatechin units. The biosynthesis of these natural products is regulated by transcription factors including proteins of the R2R3MYB class. To gain insight into the genetic control of the catechin and epicatechin branches of the PA pathway in forage legumes, here the effects of the expression of FaMYB1, a flavonoid R2R3MYB repressor from strawberry, in Lotus corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil), were tested. It was found that in leaves of T0 transgenic lines the degree of PA inhibition correlated with the level of FaMYB1 expression. These effects were heritable in the transgene-positive plant T1 generation and were tissue specific as the suppression of proanthocyanidin biosynthesis was most pronounced in mesophyll cells within the leaf, whereas other flavonoid and phenolic compounds were substantially unaltered. The data suggest that FaMYB1 may counter-balance the activity of the endogenous transcriptional MYB–bHLH–WD40 (MBW) complex promoting proanthocyanidin biosynthesis via the catechin and epicatechin branches and that FaMYB1 does not interfere with the expression levels of a resident R2R3MYB activator of PAs. It is proposed that in forage legumes leaf cell commitment to synthesize proanthocyanidins relies on the balance between the activity of activator and repressor MYBs operating within the MBW complex.