Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) belongs to the Asteraceae family, in which one of the most biologically significant class of secondary metabolites are sesquiterpene lactones (STLs). In globe artichoke the principal STL is the cynaropicrin, which contributes to approximately 80% of its characteristic bitter taste. Cynaropicrin content was assessed in globe artichoke tissues and was observed to accumulate in leaves of different developmental stages. In the receptacle, a progressive decrease was observed during inflorescence development, while the STL could not be detected in the inflorescence bracts. Almost undetectable amounts were found in the roots and inflorescence stems at the commercial stage. Cynaropicrin content was found to correlate with expression of genes encoding CcGAS, CcGAO and CcCOS, which are involved in the STL biosynthesis. A more detailed study of leaf material revealed that cynaropicrin predominantly accumulates in the trichomes, and not in the apoplastic cavity fluids. Analysis of the promoter regions of CcGAO and CcCOS revealed the presence of L1-box motifs, which confers trichome-specific expression in Arabidopsis, suggesting that cynaropicrin is not only stored but also synthesized in trichomes. A transient expression of GFP fusion proteins was performed in Nicotiana benthamiana plants: the CcGAS fluorescence signal was located in the cytoplasm while the CcGAO and CcCOS localized to the endoplasmatic reticulum.
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- Globe artichoke
- Sesquiterpene lactones