Studies have revealed the mechanism by which apple transposons regulate allele-specific expression

Apple petal color is correlated with the expression of MYB10 and MYB110a. Photo courtesy of The Fruit Tree Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Recently, the Apple Resources and Breeding Innovation Team of the Institute of Pomology of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, in conjunction with domestic and foreign scientific research institutions, explained the important role of apple transposons (TE) in regulating allele-specific expression (ASE) from the genome-wide level. The results were published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Genetic variation caused by transposons leads to species phenotypic diversity and biological evolution, with the proportion of transposons in the apple genome reaching nearly 60%. Apple’s genome is highly heterozygous due to incompatibility with inbred incompatibility, and a large number of alleles are present in individuals, but the regulatory mechanism of transposon insertion for specific expression of alleles is poorly understood.

The study used the “Gala” apple flower pure line as the test material to complete the whole genome sequencing and assembly; And further using the transcriptome sequencing data of the “Royal Gala” flowers and fruits, 2091 alleles were identified for specific expression in the genome-wide range. Analysis of allele-specific expression gene sequences in the presence of transposons found that transposon insertions were present in the upstream regions of the apple anthocyanin biosynthetic transcription factors MYB110a and MYB10.

Through the analysis of 231 apple germplasm, it was found that transposon insertion in the upstream region of the two MYB genes was positively correlated with allele specific expression and anthocyanin accumulation, revealing the basis for the evolution of apple blossom color.

This study not only explains the important role of transposons in regulating allele-specific expression from the genome-wide level, but also provides a new method for rapid identification of plant-specific gene-specific expression genes and their regulatory elements at the genome-wide scale.

The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. (Source: China Science Daily, Li Chen, He Wenshang)

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