Article ID: 18.0104a
Blue flower color of Nemophila menziesii Hook. and Arn. is derived from a metalloanthocyanin, nemophilin, which comprises petunidin-3-O-[6-O-(trans-p-coumaroyl)-β-glucoside]-5-O-[6-O-(malonyl)-β-glucoside], apigenin-7-O-β-glucoside-4′-O-(6-O-malonyl)-β-glucoside, and Mg2+ and Fe3+ ions. The flavonoid biosynthetic pathway of nemophilin has not yet been characterized. RNA-Seq analysis of the petals yielded 61,491 contigs. These were searched using BLAST against petunia or torenia flavonoid biosynthetic proteins, which identified 11 putative full-length protein sequences belonging to the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. RT-PCR using primers designed on the basis of these sequences yielded 14 sequences. Spatio-temporal transcriptome analysis indicated that genes involved in the early part of the pathway are strongly expressed during early-petal development and that those in the late part at late-flower opening stages, but they are rarely expressed in leaves. Flavanone 3-hydroxylase and flavonoid 3′,5′-hydroxylase cDNAs were successfully expressed in yeast to confirm their activities. Recombinant anthocyanin O-methyltransferase cDNA (NmAMT6) produced using Escherichia coli was subjected to biochemical characterization. Km of NmAMT6 toward delphinidin 3-O-glucoside was 22 µM, which is comparable with Km values of anthocyanin O-methyltransferases from other plants. With delphinidin 3-O-glucoside as substrate, NmAMT6 almost exclusively yielded petunidin 3-O-glucoside rather than malvidin 3-O-glucoside. This specificity is consistent with the anthocyanin composition of Nemophila petals.