Authors: Winefield, Chris S.; Lewis, David H.; Swinny, Dwald E.; Zhang, Huaibi; Arathoon, H. Steve; Fischer, Thilo C.; Halbwirth, Heidrun; Stich, Karl; Gosch, Christian; Forkmann, Gert; Davies, Kevin M.
Publication: Physiologia Plantarum
Year: 2005
Genera: Sinningia

3-Deoxyanthocyanins provide bright orange-red colours to flowers of some members of the Gesneriaceae, including sinningia (Sinningia cardinalis). We examined 3-deoxyanthocyanin biosynthesis in sinningia, in particular, the expression of key flavonoid biosynthetic genes and the activities of the encoded proteins. Two abundant 3-deoxyanthocyanins, luteolinidin 5-O-glucoside and apigeninidin 5-O-glucoside, three flavone glycosides, luteolin 7-O-glucoside, luteolin 7-O-glucuronide and apigenin 7-O-glucuronide, and the cinnamic acid verbascoside were identified in sinningia petal tissue. Small amounts of a 3-hydroxyanthocyanin were also detected in a limited region of the petal. cDNA clones for three flavonoid enzymes, flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase/flavanone 4-reductase (DFR/FNR) and anthocyanidin synthase (ANS), were isolated from a sinningia cDNA library made from petal RNA and used to measure transcript abundance during petal development. Only very low levels of F3H transcript were detected, while DFR/FNR transcript was highly abundant. ANS transcript levels were intermediate between these two. The F3H cDNA was shown to encode a functional F3H protein by complementation of the phenotype of an Antirrhinum majus F3H mutant. The recombinant DFR/FNR had activity against both flavanone and dihydroflavonol substrates to a comparable extent. The results suggest a mechanism of 3-deoxyflavonoid biosynthesis in sinningia similar to that reported for Zea mays, in which lack of F3H activity allows action of the DFR/FNR on flavanone substrates and production of flavan-4-ols. These are then likely converted to 3-deoxyanthocyanins through the action of the ANS and subsequent glucosylation.