Control of anthocyanin biosynthesis in flowers of Antirrhinum majus


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The intensity and pattern of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Antirrhinum flowers is controlled by several genes. We have isolated six cDNA clones encoding enzymes in the pathway committed to flavonoid biosynthesis and used these to assay how the regulatory genes that modify colour pattern affect the expression of bio-synthetic genes. The biosynthetic genes of the later part of the pathway appear to be co-ordinately regulated by two genes, Delila (Del), and Eluta (El), while the early steps (which also lead to flavone synthesis) are controlled differently. This division of control is not the same as control of anthocyanin biosynthesis by the regulatory genes R(S) and C1 in maize aleurone, and may result from the adaptive significance of different flavonoids in flowers and seeds, reflecting their attractiveness to insects and mammals respectively. EI and del are probably involved in transcriptional control and both genes appear to be able to repress expression of some biosynthetic genes and activate expression of others.