Journal of experimental botany

Methylation mediated by an anthocyanin, O-methyltransferase, is involved in purple flower coloration in Paeonia.

PMID 26208646


Anthocyanins are major pigments in plants. Methylation plays a role in the diversity and stability of anthocyanins. However, the contribution of anthocyanin methylation to flower coloration is still unclear. We identified two homologous anthocyanin O-methyltransferase (AOMT) genes from purple-flowered (PsAOMT) and red-flowered (PtAOMT) Paeonia plants, and we performed functional analyses of the two genes in vitro and in vivo. The critical amino acids for AOMT catalytic activity were studied by site-directed mutagenesis. We showed that the recombinant proteins, PsAOMT and PtAOMT, had identical substrate preferences towards anthocyanins. The methylation activity of PsAOMT was 60 times higher than that of PtAOMT in vitro. Interestingly, this vast difference in catalytic activity appeared to result from a single amino acid residue substitution at position 87 (arginine to leucine). There were significant differences between the 35S::PsAOMT transgenic tobacco and control flowers in relation to their chromatic parameters, which further confirmed the function of PsAOMT in vivo. The expression levels of the two homologous AOMT genes were consistent with anthocyanin accumulation in petals. We conclude that AOMTs are responsible for the methylation of cyanidin glycosides in Paeonia plants and play an important role in purple coloration in Paeonia spp.

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Cyanin chloride, ≥90% (HPLC)