The low phytic acid1-241 (lpa1-241) maize mutation alters the accumulation of anthocyanin pigment in the kernel

Planta. 2010 Apr;231(5):1189-99. doi: 10.1007/s00425-010-1123-z. Epub 2010 Feb 27.


The lpa1 mutations in maize are caused by lesions in the ZmMRP4 (multidrug resistance-associated proteins 4) gene. In previous studies (Raboy et al. in Plant Physiol 124:355-368, 2000; Pilu et al. in Theor Appl Genet 107:980-987, 2003a; Shi et al. Nat Biotechnol 25:930-937, 2007), several mutations have been isolated in this locus causing a reduction of phytic acid (myo-inositol-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexakisphosphate, or InsP(6)) content and an equivalent increasing of free phosphate. In particular, the lpa1-241 mutation causes a reduction of up to 90% of phytic acid, associated with strong pleiotropic effects on the whole plant. In this work, we show, for the first time to our knowledge, an interaction between the accumulation of anthocyanin pigments in the kernel and the lpa mutations. In fact the lpa1-241 mutant accumulates a higher level of anthocyanins as compared to wild type either in the embryo (about 3.8-fold) or in the aleurone layer (about 0.3-fold) in a genotype able to accumulate anthocyanin. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these pigments are mislocalised in the cytoplasm, conferring a blue pigmentation of the scutellum, because of the neutral/basic pH of this cellular compartment. As a matter of fact, the propionate treatment, causing a specific acidification of the cytoplasm, restored the red pigmentation of the scutellum in the mutant and expression analysis showed a reduction of ZmMRP3 anthocyanins' transporter gene expression. On the whole, these data strongly suggest a possible interaction between the lpa mutation and anthocyanin accumulation and compartmentalisation in the kernel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Anthocyanins / metabolism*
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism*
  • Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Pigmentation / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Propionates / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seeds / cytology
  • Seeds / drug effects
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / metabolism*
  • Vanadates / pharmacology
  • Zea mays / cytology
  • Zea mays / drug effects
  • Zea mays / embryology
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Propionates
  • Vanadates
  • Phytic Acid
  • propionic acid