The Arabidopsis TDS4 gene encodes leucoanthocyanidin dioxygenase (LDOX) and is essential for proanthocyanidin synthesis and vacuole development


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These authors contributed equally to this paper.


The anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin (PA) biosynthetic pathways share common intermediates until leucocyanidin, which may be used by leucoanthocyanidin dioxygenase (LDOX) to produce anthocyanin, or the enzyme leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) to produce catechin, a precursor of PA. The Arabidopsis mutant tannin deficient seed 4 (tds4-1) has a reduced PA level and altered pattern PA accumulation. We identified the TDS4 gene as LDOX by complementation of the tds4-1 mutation either with a cosmid encoding LDOX or a 35S:LDOX construct. Independent Arabidopsis lines with a T-DNA insertion in the LDOX gene had a similar phenotype, and one was allelic to tds4-1. The seed phenotype of ban tds4 double mutants showed that LDOX precedes BANYULS (BAN) in the PA pathway, confirming recent biochemical characterisation of BAN as an anthocyanidin reductase. Double mutant analysis was also used to order the other TDS genes. Analysis of the PA intermediates in tds4-1 revealed three dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde (DMACA) reacting compounds that accumulated in extracts from developing seeds. Analysis of Arabidopsis PA and its precursors indicates that Arabidopsis, unlike many other plants, exclusively uses the epicatechin and not the catechin pathway to PA. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed that the pattern observed when seeds of tds4 were stained with DMACA was a result of the accumulation of PA intermediates in the cytoplasm of endothelial cells. Fluorescent marker dyes were used to show that tds4 endothelial cells had multiple small vacuoles, instead of a large central vacuole as observed in the wild types (WT). These results show that in addition to its established role in the formation of anthocyanin, LDOX is also part of the PA biosynthesis pathway.