TRANSPARENT TESTA 19 is involved in the accumulation of both anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins in Arabidopsis

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Summary

Flavonoid compounds such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (PAs; so-called condensed tannins) have a multitude of functions in plants. They must be transported from the site of synthesis in the cytosol to their final destination, the vacuoles. Three models have been proposed for sequestering anthocyanins in vacuoles, but the transport machinery for PAs is poorly understood. Novel Arabidopsis mutants, transparent testa 19 (tt19), which were induced by ion beam irradiation, showed a great reduction of anthocyanin pigments in the vegetative parts as well as brown pigments in the seed coat. The TT19 gene was isolated by chromosome walking and a candidate gene approach, and was shown to be a member of the Arabidopsis glutathione S-transferase (GST) gene family. Heterologous expression of a putative ortholog, petunia anthocyanin 9 (AN9), in tt19 complemented the anthocyanin accumulation but not the brown pigmentation in the seed coat. This suggests that the TT19 gene is required for vacuolar uptake of anthocyanins into vacuoles, but that it has also a function different from that of AN9. The depositional pattern of PA precursors in the mutant was different from that in the wild type. These results indicate that TT19 participates in the PA pathway as well as the anthocyanin pathway of Arabidopsis. As involvement of GST in the PA pathway was previously considered unlikely, the function of TT19 in the PA pathway is also discussed in the context of the putative transporter for PA precursors.

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