Molecular genetic analysis of chalcone synthase in Lycopersicon esculentum and an anthocyanin-deficient mutant

Sharman D. O'Neill, Yusen Tong, Brigitte Spörlein, Gert Forkmann, John I. Yoder

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Twelve loci have previously been identified in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) that control the intensity and distribution of anthocyanin pigmentation; these are useful genetic markers because they encode phenotypes that are readily visualized in the hypocotyls of emerging seedlings. In order to obtain molecular probes for tomato anthocyanin biosynthesis genes, we isolated two cDNAs which encode chalcone synthase (CHS), one of the key enzymes in anthocyanin biosynthesis, from a tomato hypocotyl cDNA library. By comparing their nucleic acid sequences, we determined that the two CHS cDNAs have an overall similarity of 76% at the nucleotide level and 88% at the amino acid level. We identified hybridization conditions that would distinguish the two clones and by Northern analysis showed that 1.5 kb mRNA species corresponding to each cDNA were expressed in cotyledons, hypocotyls and leaves of wild-type seedlings. Hybridization of the cDNAs at low stringency to genomic blots indicated that in tomato, CHS genes comprise a family of at least three individual members. The two genes that encode the CHS cDNAs were then placed onto the tomato genetic map at unique loci by restriction fragment length polymorphism mapping. We also assayed the activity of CHS and another enzyme in the anthocyanin pathway, flavone 3-hydroxylase, in hypocotyl extracts of wild-type tomato and a number of anthocyanin-deficient mutants. Five mutants had reduced CHS activity when compared to the wildtype controls. Of these, three were also reduce in flavone 3-hydroxylase activity, suggesting a regulatory role for these loci. The other two mutants were preferentially reduced in CHS activity, suggesting a more specific role for these loci in CHS expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalMGG Molecular & General Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthocyanin-less mutants
  • Chalcone synthase
  • Tomato
  • cDNA


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