Carotenoid biosynthesis during tomato fruit development: regulatory role of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase


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Plant isoprenoids represent a heterogeneous group of compounds which play essential roles not only in growth and development, but also in the interaction of plants with their environment. Higher plants contain two pathways for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids: the mevalonate pathway, located in the cytosol/endoplasmic reticulum, and the recently discovered mevalonate-independent pathway (Rohmer pathway), located in the plastids. In order to evaluate the function of the Rohmer pathway in the regulation of the synthesis of plastidial isoprenoids, we have isolated a tomato cDNA encoding 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS), the first enzyme of the pathway. We demonstrate in vivo activity and plastid targeting of plant DXS. Expression analysis of the tomato DXS gene indicates developmental and organ-specific regulation of mRNA accumulation and a strong correlation with carotenoid synthesis during fruit development. 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose feeding experiments, together with expression analysis of DXS and PSY1 (encoding the fruit-specific isoform of phytoene synthase) in wild-type and yellow flesh mutant fruits, indicate that DXS catalyses the first potentially regulatory step in carotenoid biosynthesis during early fruit ripening. Our results change the current view that PSY1 is the only regulatory enzyme in tomato fruit carotenogenesis, and point towards a coordinated role of both DXS and PSY1 in the control of fruit carotenoid synthesis.