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An Integrated-Omics/Chemistry Approach Unravels Enzymatic and Spontaneous Steps to Form Flavoalkaloidal Nudicaulin Pigments in Flowers of Papaver nudicaule L

An Integrated-Omics/Chemistry Approach Unravels Enzymatic and Spontaneous Steps to Form Flavoalkaloidal Nudicaulin Pigments in Flowers of Papaver nudicaule L

International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22(8)

PMID: 33923591

DOI: 10.3390/ijms22084129

Flower colour is an important trait for plants to attract pollinators and ensure their reproductive success. Among yellow flower pigments, the nudicaulins in Papaver nudicaule L. (Iceland poppy) are unique due to their rarity and unparalleled flavoalkaloid structure. Nudicaulins are derived from pelargonidin glycoside and indole, products of the flavonoid and indole/tryptophan biosynthetic pathway, respectively. To gain insight into the molecular and chemical basis of nudicaulin biosynthesis, we combined transcriptome, differential gel electrophoresis (DIGE)-based proteome, and ultra-performance liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS)-based metabolome data of P. nudicaule petals with chemical investigations. We identified candidate genes and proteins for all biosynthetic steps as well as some key metabolites across five stages of petal development. Candidate genes of amino acid biosynthesis showed a relatively stable expression throughout petal development, whereas most candidate genes of flavonoid biosynthesis showed increasing expression during development followed by downregulation in the final stage. Notably, gene candidates of indole-3-glycerol-phosphate lyase (IGL), sharing characteristic sequence motifs with known plant IGL genes, were co-expressed with flavonoid biosynthesis genes, and are probably providing free indole. The fusion of indole with pelargonidin glycosides was retraced synthetically and promoted by high precursor concentrations, an excess of indole, and a specific glycosylation pattern of pelargonidin. Thus, nudicaulin biosynthesis combines the enzymatic steps of two different pathways with a spontaneous fusion of indole and pelargonidin glycoside under precisely tuned reaction conditions.

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