Chalcone synthase

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Chalcone synthases are a family of polyketide synthase enzymes associated with the production of chalcones, a class of organic compounds found mainly in plants as natural defense mechanisms and as synthetic intermediates, for example in the production of pigments.

The chalcone synthase gene of petunia plants is famous for being the first gene in which the phenomenon of RNA interference was observed; researchers intending to upregulate the production of pigments in light pink or violet flowers introduced a transgene for chalcone synthase, expecting that both the native gene and the transgene would express the enzyme and result in a more deeply colored flower phenotype. Instead the transgenic plants had mottled white flowers, indicating that the introduction of the transgene had downregulated or silenced chalcone synthase expression.[1] Further investigation of the phenomenon indicated that the downregulation was due to post-transcriptional inhibition of the chalcone synthase gene expression via an increased rate of messenger RNA degradation.[2]


  1. Napoli C, Lemieux C, Jorgensen R (1990). "Introduction of a Chimeric Chalcone Synthase Gene into Petunia Results in Reversible Co-Suppression of Homologous Genes in trans". Plant Cell. 2 (4): 279–289. PMID 12354959.
  2. Van Blokland R, Van der Geest N, Mol JNM, Kooter JM (1994). "Transgene-mediated suppression of chalcone synthase expression in Petunia hybrida results from an increase in RNA turnover". Plant J. 6: 861&ndash, 77.

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