In maize, mutations in the pr1 locus lead to the accumulation of pelargonidin (red) rather than cyanidin (purple) pigments in aleurone cells where the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway is active. We characterized pr1 mutation and isolated a putative F3H encoding gene (Zmf3h1) and showed by segregation analysis that the red kernel phenotype is linked to this gene. Genetic mapping using SNP markers confirms its position on chromosome 5L. Furthermore, genetic complementation experiments using a CaMV 35S::ZmF3H1 promoter-gene construct established that the encoded protein product was sufficient to perform a 3-hydroxylation reaction. The Zmf3h1-specific transcripts were detected in floral and vegetative tissues of Pr1 plants and were absent in pr1. Four pr1 alleles were characterized: two carry a 24 TA dinucleotide repeat insertion in the 5-upstream promoter region, a third has a 17-bp deletion near the TATA box, and a fourth contains a Ds insertion in exon1. Genetic and transcription assays demonstrated that the pr1 gene is under the regulatory control of anthocyanin transcription factors red1 and colorless1. The cloning and characterization of pr1 completes the molecular identification of all genes encoding structural enzymes of the anthocyanin pathway of maize.
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