Differential interaction of Or proteins with the PSY enzymes in saffron


Colored apocarotenoids accumulate at high concentrations in few plant species, where display a role in attraction of pollinators and seed dispersers. Among these apocarotenoids, crocins accumulate at high concentrations in the stigma of saffron and are responsible for the organoleptic and medicinal properties of this spice. Phytoene synthase and Orange protein are key for carotenoid biosynthesis and accumulation. We previously isolated four phytoene synthase genes from saffron with differential roles in carotenoid and apocarotenoid biosynthesis. However, the implications of Orange genes in the regulation of apocarotenoid accumulation are unknown. Here, we have identified two Orange genes from saffron, with different expression patterns. CsOr-a was mainly expressed in vegetative tissues and was induced by light and repressed by heat stress. Both CsOr-a and CsOr-b were expressed in stigmas but showed a different profile during the development of this tissue. The interactions of CsOr-a and CsOr-b were tested with all the four phytoene synthase proteins from saffron and with CsCCD2. None interactions were detected with CCD2 neither with the phytoene synthase 2, involved in apocarotenoid biosynthesis in saffron. The obtained results provide evidence of different mechanisms regulating the phytoene synthase enzymes in saffron by Orange for carotenoid and apocarotenoid accumulation in saffron. © 2020, The Author(s).

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