Author(s): Kachanovsky DE, Filler S, Isaacson T, Hirschberg J
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Abstract Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit accumulate the red carotenoid pigment lycopene. The recessive mutation yellow-flesh (locus r) in tomato eliminates fruit carotenoids by disrupting the activity of the fruit-specific phytoene synthase (PSY1), the first committed step in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway. Fruits of the recessive mutation tangerine (t) appear orange due to accumulation of 7,9,7',9'-tetra-cis-lycopene (prolycopene) as a result of a mutation in the carotenoid cis-trans isomerase. It was established 60 y ago that tangerine is epistatic to yellow-flesh. This uncharacteristic epistasis interaction defies a paradigm in biochemical genetics arguing that mutations that disrupt enzymes acting early in a biosynthetic pathway are epistatic to other mutations that block downstream steps in the same pathway. To explain this conundrum, we have investigated the interaction between tangerine and yellow-flesh at the molecular level. Results presented here indicate that allele r(2997) of yellow-flesh eliminates transcription of PSY1 in fruits. In a genetic background of tangerine, transcription of PSY1 is partially restored to a level sufficient for producing phytoene and downstream carotenoids. Our results revealed the molecular mechanism underlying the epistasis of t over r and suggest the involvement of cis-carotenoid metabolites in a feedback regulation of PSY1 gene expression.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics