Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) belongs to the Solanaceae family and is used as a medicinal herb with health benefits. It has been reported that the black nightshade plant contains various phytochemicals that are associated with antitumor activities. Here we employed a genetic approach to study the effects of overexpression of Arabidopsis thaliana production of anthocyanin pigment 1 (AtPAP1) in black nightshade. Ectopic expression of AtPAP1 resulted in enhanced accumulation of anthocyanin pigments in vegetative and reproductive tissues of the transgenic plants. Analysis of anthocyanin revealed that delphinidin 3-O-rutinoside-5-O-glucoside, delphinidin 3,5-O-diglucoside, delphinidin 3-O-rutinoside, petunidin 3-O-rutinoside (cis-p-coumaroyl)-5-O-glucoside, petunidin 3-(feruloyl)-rutinoside-5-glucoside, and malvidin 3-(feruloyl)-rutinoside-5-glucoside are highly induced in the leaves of AtPAP1 overexpression lines. Furthermore, ectopic expression of AtPAP1 evoked expression of early and late biosynthetic genes of the general phenylpropanoid and flavonoid pathways that include phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), cinnamate-4-hydroxylase (C4H), 4-coumarate CoA ligase (4CL), chalcone isomerase (CHI), and quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT), which suggests these genes might be transcriptional targets of AtPAP1 in black nightshade. Concomitantly, the total content of anthocyanin in the transgenic black nightshade plants was higher compared to the control plants, which supports phenotypic changes in color. Our data demonstrate that a major anthocyanin biosynthetic regulator, AtPAP1, can induce accumulation of anthocyanins in the heterologous system of black nightshade through the conserved flavonoid biosynthesis pathway in plants.
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