BMC plant biology

Effects of silencing key genes in the capsanthin biosynthetic pathway on fruit color of detached pepper fruits.

PMID 25403855


There are many varieties of carotenoids in pepper fruits. Capsanthin is a red carotenoid that gives mature pepper fruits their red color. The red color in pepper fruits is regulated mainly by the genes capsanthin/capsorubin synthase(Ccs), phytoene synthase(Psy), lycopene-β-cyclase(Lcyb) and β-carotene hydroxylase(Crtz). There has been very limited research work related to the development and change in the red color during fruit formation and when a certain gene or several genes are deleted. In this paper, we constructed viral vectors, using the tobacco rattle virus (TRV), to carry the target gene to infect detached pepper fruits, and observed the fruits' color change. We used real-time quantitative PCR to analyze the gene silencing efficiency. At the same time, HPLC was used to determine the content of capsanthin and carotenoids that are associated with capsanthin synthesis when key genes in the pepper fruits were silenced. These genes (Ccs, Psy, Lcyb and Crtz) were individually silenced through virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) technology, and pepper fruits from red fruit cultivars showed an orange or yellow color. When several genes were silenced simultaneously, the fruit also did not show the normal red color. Gene expression analysis by real-time quantitative PCR showed 70-80% efficiency of target gene silencing when using the VIGS method. HPLC analysis showed that the contents of carotenoids associated with capsanthin synthesis (e.g. β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin or zeaxanthin) were decreased in varying degrees when silencing a gene or several genes together, however, the content of capsanthin reduced significantly. The synthesis of capsanthin was influenced either directly or indirectly when any key gene was silenced. The influence of the target genes on color changes in pepper fruits was confirmed via the targeted silencing of them. VIGS was a good method to study the molecular mechanism of pepper fruit color formation. By using virus induced gene silencing technology, capsanthin synthesis genes in pepper fruits were silenced individually or simultaneously, and pepper fruit color changes were observed. This provides a platform to further explore the molecular mechanism of pepper fruit color formation.

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Capsanthin, ≥90.0% (HPLC)