Insights of Phenolic Pathway in Fruits: Transcriptional and Metabolic Profiling in Apricot ( Prunus armeniaca)

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 26;22(7):3411. doi: 10.3390/ijms22073411.


There is an increasing interest in polyphenols, plant secondary metabolites, in terms of fruit quality and diet, mainly due to their antioxidant effect. However, the identification of key gene enzymes and their roles in the phenylpropanoid pathway in temperate fruits species remains uncertain. Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) is a Mediterranean fruit with high diversity and fruit quality properties, being an excellent source of polyphenol compounds. For a better understanding of the phenolic pathway in these fruits, we selected a set of accessions with genetic-based differences in phenolic compounds accumulation. HPLC analysis of the main phenolic compounds and transcriptional analysis of the genes involved in key steps of the polyphenol network were carried out. Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), dihydroflavonol-4-reductase (DFR) and flavonol synthase (FLS) were the key enzymes selected. Orthologous of the genes involved in transcription of these enzymes were identified in apricot: ParPAL1, ParPAL2, ParDFR, ParFLS1 and ParFLS2. Transcriptional data of the genes involved in those critical points and their relationships with the polyphenol compounds were analyzed. Higher expression of ParDFR and ParPAL2 has been associated with red-blushed accessions. Differences in expression between paralogues could be related to the presence of a BOXCOREDCPAL cis-acting element related to the genes involved in anthocyanin synthesis ParFLS2, ParDFR and ParPAL2.

Keywords: DFR; FLS; PAL; fruits; phenolic pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Metabolome*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase / genetics
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / biosynthesis*
  • Polyphenols / genetics
  • Prunus / genetics
  • Prunus / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Polyphenols
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • dihydroflavanol 4-reductase
  • flavonol synthase
  • Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyase