Light-induced morphological alteration in anthocyanin-accumulating vacuoles of maize cells
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Citation:Niloufer G. Irani and Erich Grotewold, "Light-induced morphological alteration in anthocyanin-accumulating vacuoles of maize cells," BMC Plant Biology 5 (2005), doi:10.1186/1471-2229-5-7, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/5/7
Background: Plant pigmentation is affected by a variety of factors. Light, an important plant developmental signal, influences the accumulation of anthocyanins primarily through the activation of the transcription factors that regulate the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. In this study, we utilized maize Black Mexican Sweet (BMS) cells expressing the R and C1 regulators of anthocyanin biosynthesis from a light-insensitive promoter as a means to investigate the existence of additional levels of control of pigmentation by light. Results: BMS cells expressing the R and C1 regulators from the CaMV 35S constitutive promoter accumulate anthocyanins when grown in complete darkness, suggesting that the transcription factors R and C1 are sufficient for the transcription of the genes corresponding to the structural enzymes of the pathway, with no requirement for additional light-induced regulators. Interestingly, light induces a "darkening" in the color of the purple anthocyanin pigmentation of transgenic BMS cells expressing R and C1. This change in the pigment hue is not associated with a variation in the levels or types of anthocyanins present, or with an alteration of the transcript levels of several flavonoid biosynthetic genes. However, cytological observations show that light drives unexpected changes in the morphology and distribution of the anthocyanins-containing vacuolar compartments. Conclusion: By uncoupling the effect of light on anthocyanin accumulation, we have found light to induce the fusion of anthocyanin-containing vacuoles, the coalescence of anthocyanic vacuolar inclusion (AVI)-like structures contained, and the spread of anthocyanins from the inclusions into the vacuolar sap. Similar light-induced alterations in vacuolar morphology are also evident in the epidermal cells of maize floral whorls accumulating anthocyanins. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism for the action of light on the vacuolar storage of anthocyanin.