Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Genetics Research

Title: Identification of the Pr1 gene product completes the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway of maize

item Sharma, Mandeep
item Cortes-cruz, Moises
item Ahern, Kevin
item Mcmullen, Michael
item Brutnell, Thomas
item Chopra, Surinder

Submitted to: Genetics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/25/2011
Publication Date: 5/1/2011
Citation: Sharma, M., Cortes-Cruz, M., Ahern, K., McMullen, M.D., Brutnell, T., Chopra, S. 2011. Identification of the Pr1 gene product completes the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway of maize. Genetics. 188:69-79.

Interpretive Summary: The anthocyanins are plant pigments responsible for adding color to our lives through pigmenting many plant parts, including the colorful kernels of “Halloween corn”. For over a century the anthocyanin pathway in maize has served as one of the basic models for defining the field of genetics. Research over the last two decades has lead to the identification characterization of the major regulatory genes for the pathway and all the structural genes except one, the gene required for the 3’ position hydroxylation of one of the intermediate compounds. In this paper the final missing gene in the anthocyanin pathway is identified, isolated and characterized. These results are important for completing our knowledge of the biochemistry and molecular biology of kernel pigmentation by the anthocyhanins. This allows molecular biologists to develop a complete systems biology model for this important pathway.

Technical Abstract: In maize, mutations in the pr1 locus lead to the accumulation of pelargonidin (red) rather than cyanidin (purple) pigments in aleurone cells where the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway is active. We characterized pr1 mutation and isolated a putative F3'H encoding gene (Zmf3'h1), and showed by segregation analysis that the red kernel phenotype is linked to this gene. Genetic mapping using SNP markers confirms its position on chromosome 5L. Furthermore, genetic complementation experiments using a CaMV 35S::ZmF3'H1 promoter-gene construct established that the encoded protein product was sufficient to perform a 3'-hydroxylation reaction. The Zmf3'h1 specific transcripts were detected in floral and vegetative tissues of Pr1 plants and were absent in pr1. Four pr1 alleles were characterized: two carry a 24 TA dinucleotide repeat insertion in the 5' upstream promoter region, a third has a 17 bp deletion near the TATA box, and fourth contains a Ds insertion in exon1. Genetic and transcription assays demonstrated that the pr1 gene is under the regulatory control of anthocyanin transcription factors red and colorless. The cloning and characterization of pr1 completes the molecular identification of all genes encoding structural enzymes of the anthocyanin pathway of maize.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page