Accumulation of secondary metabolites in the young shoots of tea plants is developmentally modulated, especially flavonoids. Here, we investigate the developmental regulation mechanism of secondary metabolism in the developing leaves of tea plants using an integrated multiomic approach. For the pair of Leaf2/Bud, the correlation coefficient of the fold change of mRNA and RPFs abundances involved in flavonoid biosynthesis was 0.9359, being higher than that of RPFs and protein (R2 = 0.6941). These correlations were higher than the corresponding correlation coefficients for secondary metabolisms and genome-wide scale. Metabolomic analysis demonstrates that the developmental modulations of the structural genes for flavonoid biosynthesis-related pathways align with the concentration changes of catechin and flavonol glycoside groups. Relatively high translational efficiency (TE > 2) was observed in the four flavonoid structural genes (chalcone isomerase, dihydroflavonol 4-reductase, anthocyanidin synthase, and flavonol synthase). In addition, we originally provided the information on identified small open reading frames (small ORFs) and main ORFs in tea leaves and elaborated that the presence of upstream ORFs may have a repressive effect on the translation of downstream ORFs. Our data suggest that transcriptional regulation coordinates with translational regulation and may contribute to the elevation of translational efficiencies for the structural genes involved in the flavonoid biosynthesis pathways during tea leaf development.
Keywords: Camellia sinensis; leaf maturity; proteome; ribosome profiling; transcriptome.