Isolating an active and inactive CACTA transposon from lettuce color mutants and characterizing their family

Csanad Gurdon, Alexander Kozik, Rong Tao, Alexander Poulev, Isabel Armas, Richard W. Michelmore, Ilya Raskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Dietary flavonoids play an important role in human nutrition and health. Flavonoid biosynthesis genes have recently been identified in lettuce (Lactuca sativa); however, few mutants have been characterized. We now report the causative mutations in Green Super Lettuce (GSL), a natural light green mutant derived from red cultivar NAR; and GSL-Dark Green (GSL-DG), an olive-green natural derivative of GSL. GSL harbors CACTA 1 (LsC1), a 3.9-kb active nonautonomous CACTA superfamily transposon inserted in the 50 untranslated region of anthocyanidin synthase (ANS), a gene coding for a key enzyme in anthocyanin biosynthesis. Both terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) of this transposon were intact, enabling somatic excision of the mobile element, which led to the restoration of ANS expression and the accumulation of red anthocyanins in sectors on otherwise green leaves. GSL-DG harbors CACTA 2 (LsC2), a 1.1-kb truncated copy of LsC1 that lacks one of the TIRs, rendering the transposon inactive. RNA-sequencing and reverse transcription quantitative PCR of NAR, GSL, and GSL-DG indicated the relative expression level of ANS was strongly influenced by the transposon insertions. Analysis of flavonoid content indicated leaf cyanidin levels correlated positively with ANS expression. Bioinformatic analysis of the cv Salinas lettuce reference genome led to the discovery and characterization of an LsC1 transposon family with a putative transposon copy number greater than 1,700. Homologs of tnpA and tnpD, the genes encoding two proteins necessary for activation of transposition of CACTA elements, were also identified in the lettuce genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-944
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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