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Article|07 Sep 2023|OPEN
AcbHLH144 transcription factor negatively regulates phenolic biosynthesis to modulate pineapple internal browning 
Qian Li1 , Guang Wang1 , Ling Zhang1 and Shijiang Zhu,1 ,
1Guangdong Province Key Laboratory of Postharvest Physiology and Technology of Fruit and Vegetables, College of Horticulture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad185 (2023)
Views: 45

Received: 11 Jul 2023
Accepted: 03 Sep 2023
Published online: 07 Sep 2023


Internal browning (IB), a major physiological disorder of pineapples, usually happens in postharvest processes, but the underlying mechanism remains elusive. The bHLH transcription factors are involved in regulating various biological processes, but whether they could regulate tissue browning in fruit during storage remains unknown. Here we showed that the phenolic biosynthesis pathway was activated in pineapples showing IB following 9 days of storage. AcbHLH144 expression was the highest of the 180 transcription factors identified, downregulated in pineapple with IB, and negatively correlated with the major phenolic biosynthetic genes. AcbHLH144 was shown to be localized in the nucleus and its transient overexpression in pineapples and overexpression in Arabidopsis decreased phenolic biosynthesis. The yeast one-hybrid assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that AcbHLH144 directly bound to the Ac4CL5 promoter and the dual-luciferase reporter assay showed that it inactivated Ac4CL5 transcription. These results strongly suggest AcbHLH144 as a repressor for phenolic biosynthesis. Abscisic acid (ABA) alleviated IB, reduced phenolic accumulation, and downregulated phenolic biosynthetic genes, including Ac4CL5. Transcriptomic analysis showed that AcbHLH144 was the most upregulated of all 39 bHLHs in response to ABA. ABA enhanced AcbHLH144 expression, reduced phenolic contents, and downregulated phenolic biosynthetic genes in pineapples transiently overexpressing AcbHLH144. Moreover, ABA enhanced enzyme activity of GUS driven by the AcbHLH144 promoter. These results showed that AcbHLH144 as a repressor for phenolic biosynthesis could be activated by ABA. Collectively, the work demonstrated that AcbHLH144 negatively regulated phenolic biosynthesis via inactivating Ac4CL5 transcription to modulate pineapple IB. The findings provide novel insight into the role of AcbHLH144 in modulating pineapple IB during postharvest processes.