Physiologically active acylphloroglucinol (APG) glucosides were recently found in strawberry (Fragaria sp.) fruit. Although the formation of the APG aglycones has been clarified, little is known about APG glycosylation in plants. In this study we functionally characterized ripening-related glucosyltransferase genes in Fragaria by comprehensive biochemical analyses of the encoded proteins and by a RNA interference (RNAi) approach in vivo. The allelic proteins UGT71K3a/b catalyzed the glucosylation of diverse hydroxycoumarins, naphthols and flavonoids as well as phloroglucinols, enzymatically synthesized APG aglycones and pelargonidin. Total enzymatic synthesis of APG glucosides was achieved by co-incubation of recombinant dual functional chalcone/valerophenone synthase and UGT71K3 proteins with essential coenzyme A esters and UDP-glucose. An APG glucoside was identified in strawberry fruit which has not yet been reported in other plants. Suppression of UGT71K3 activity in transient RNAi-silenced fruits led to a loss of pigmentation and a substantial decrease of the levels of various APG glucosides and an anthocyanin. Metabolite analyses of transgenic fruits confirmed UGT71K3 as a UDP-glucose:APG glucosyltransferase in planta. These results provide the foundation for the breeding of fruits with improved health benefits and for the biotechnological production of bioactive natural products.
Keywords: RNA interference; acylphloroglucinol; anthocyanin; glucosyltransferase; strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa).
© 2016 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.