Based on previous transcriptome analysis, LrAN2 and LbAN2, encoding MYB transcription factors, were isolated from L. ruthenicum and L. barbarum, respectively. Both genes contained two introns, encoded 257 amino acids with two-Aa difference, and carried the unabridged HTH-MYB, MYB-like DNA-binding, and SANT domains. In the phylogenetic trees, LrAN2 and LbAN2 were found to be closely related to NtAN2, which regulates anthocyanin biosynthesis in tobacco. Overexpression of LrAN2 and LbAN2induced anthocyanin biosynthesis in all tissues of tobacco. The anthocyanin content in the leaves of transgenic lines with LbAN2 was lower than LrAN2. It indicated that the function of LbAN2 was weaker than LrAN2. The AN2transcript could be detected only in the fruits of L. ruthenicum and increased during fruit development, accompanied by anthocyanin accumulation. In natural population, the alleles LrAN2 and LrAN2 were associated strictly with L. ruthenicum and L. barbarum, respectively.Moreover, an AN2 genetic diversity study suggested that Lyciums with yellow, white, purple, and jujube red fruits were derived from L. ruthenicum.
Two AN2 alleles, from L. ruthenicum and L. barbarum, were functional MYB transcriptor regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. The functional diversity and high expression level of LrAN2 could be the reason for high anthocyanin content in the fruit of L. ruthenicum. Lyciums with yellow, white, purple, and jujube red fruits were derived from L. ruthenicum based on AN2 sequence diversity. The results may be advantageous in identifying new varieties and breeding new cultivars.
Transcription characteristics of LrAN2 and LbAN2. a Relative transcript levels of AN2in root, stem, leaf and fruit of L. barbarum and L. ruthenicum as assessed using semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The amplification of the tubulin gene served as an internal control. b Relative transcript levels in the developing fruit of L. ruthenicum. The amplification of the tubulin gene served as an internal control. c Relative anthocyanin content in the developing fruit of L. ruthenicum