Carotenoid sequestration protein FIBRILLIN participates in CmOR-regulated ß-carotene accumulation in melon.

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Chromoplasts are plant organelles with a unique ability to sequester and store massive carotenoids. Chromoplasts have been hypothesized to enable high levels of carotenoid accumulation due to enhanced sequestration ability or sequestration substructure formation. However, the regulators that control the substructure component accumulation and substructure formation in chromoplasts remain unknown. In melon (Cucumis melo) fruit, ß-carotene accumulation in chromoplasts is governed by ORANGE (OR), a key regulator for carotenoid accumulation in chromoplasts. By using comparative proteomic analysis of a high ß-carotene melon variety and its isogenic line low-ß mutant that is defective in CmOr with impaired chromoplast formation, we identified carotenoid sequestration protein FIBRILLIN1 (CmFBN1) as differentially expressed. CmFBN1 expresses highly in melon fruit tissue. Overexpression of CmFBN1 in transgenic Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) containing ORHis that genetically mimics CmOr significantly enhances carotenoid accumulation, demonstrating its involvement in CmOR-induced carotenoid accumulation. Both in vitro and in vivo evidence showed that CmOR physically interacts with CmFBN1. Such an interaction occurs in plastoglobules and results in promoting CmFBN1 accumulation. CmOR greatly stabilizes CmFBN1, which stimulates plastoglobule proliferation and subsequently carotenoid accumulation in chromoplasts. Our findings show that CmOR directly regulates CmFBN1 protein levels and suggest a fundamental role of CmFBN1 in facilitating plastoglobule proliferation for carotenoid sequestration. This study also reveals an important genetic tool to further enhance OR-induced carotenoid accumulation in chromoplasts in crops.