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Article|15 Mar 2023|OPEN
The ABA-induced NAC transcription factor MdNAC1 interacts with a bZIP-type transcription factor to promote anthocyanin synthesis in red-fleshed apples 
Wenjun Liu1 , Zhuoxin Mei1 , Lei Yu1 , Tingting Gu2 , Zhiqiang Li1 , Qi Zou1 , Shuhui Zhang1 , Hongcheng Fang3 , Yicheng Wang4 , Zongying Zhang1 , Xuesen Chen1 , and Nan Wang,1 ,
1National Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Horticulture Science and Engineering, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai’an, Shandong 271018, China
2College of Agricultural Science and Technology, Shandong Agricultural and Engineering University, Jinan, Shandong 250100, China
3StateForestry and Grassland Administration Key Laboratory of Silviculture in the Downstream Areas of the Yellow River, College of Forestry, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai’an, Shandong 271018, China
4State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad049 (2023)
Views: 303

Received: 24 Nov 2022
Accepted: 07 Mar 2023
Published online: 15 Mar 2023


Anthocyanins are valuable compounds in red-fleshed apples. The MdMYB10 transcription factor is an important regulator of the anthocyanin synthesis pathway. However, other transcription factors are key components of the complex network controlling anthocyanin synthesis and should be more thoroughly characterized. In this study, we used a yeast-based screening technology to identify MdNAC1 as a transcription factor that positively regulates anthocyanin synthesis. The overexpression of MdNAC1 in apple fruits and calli significantly promoted the accumulation of anthocyanins. In binding experiments, we demonstrated that MdNAC1 combines with the bZIP-type transcription factor MdbZIP23 to activate the transcription of MdMYB10 and MdUFGT. Our analyses also indicated that the expression of MdNAC1 is strongly induced by ABA because of the presence of an ABRE cis-acting element in its promoter. Additionally, the accumulation of anthocyanins in apple calli co-transformed with MdNAC1 and MdbZIP23 increased in the presence of ABA. Therefore, we revealed a novel anthocyanin synthesis mechanism involving the ABA-induced transcription factor MdNAC1 in red-fleshed apples.