Publications

2015
Sheerin DJ, Menon C, Zur Oven-Krockhaus S, Enderle B, Zhu L, Johnen P, Schleifenbaum F, Stierhof Y-D, Huq E, Hiltbrunner A. Light-Activated Phytochrome A and B Interact with Members of the SPA Family to Promote Photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis by Reorganizing the COP1/SPA Complex. Plant Cell. 27 (1) :189-201.Abstract
Phytochromes function as red/far-red photoreceptors in plants and are essential for light-regulated growth and development. Photomorphogenesis, the developmental program in light, is the default program in seed plants. In dark-grown seedlings, photomorphogenic growth is suppressed by the action of the CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1)/SUPPRESSOR OF phyA-105 (SPA) complex, which targets positive regulators of photomorphogenic growth for degradation by the proteasome. Phytochromes inhibit the COP1/SPA complex, leading to the accumulation of transcription factors promoting photomorphogenesis; yet, the mechanism by which they inactivate COP1/SPA is still unknown. Here, we show that light-activated phytochrome A (phyA) and phytochrome B (phyB) interact with SPA1 and other SPA proteins. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer-fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy analyses show that SPAs and phytochromes colocalize and interact in nuclear bodies. Furthermore, light-activated phyA and phyB disrupt the interaction between COP1 and SPAs, resulting in reorganization of the COP1/SPA complex in planta. The light-induced stabilization of HFR1, a photomorphogenic factor targeted for degradation by COP1/SPA, correlates temporally with the accumulation of phyA in the nucleus and localization of phyA to nuclear bodies. Overall, these data provide a molecular mechanism for the inactivation of the COP1/SPA complex by phyA- and phyB-mediated light perception.
2014
Mulekar JJ, Huq E. Expanding roles of protein kinase CK2 in regulating plant growth and development. J Exp Bot. 65 (11) :2883-93.Abstract
Protein kinase CK2 (formerly known as casein kinase II) is a ubiquitious Ser/Thr kinase present in all eukaryotes. The α (catalytic) and β (regulatory) subunits of CK2 exist both as a tetrameric holoenzyme and as monomers in eukaryotic cells. CK2 has been implicated in multiple developmental and stress-responsive pathways including light signalling and circadian clock in plants. Recent studies using CK2 knockout and dominant negative mutants in Arabidopsis have uncovered new roles for this enzyme. CK2 substrates that have been identified so far are primarily transcription factors or regulatory proteins. CK2-mediated phosphorylation of these factors often results in alteration of the protein function including changes in the DNA-binding affinity, dimerization, stability, protein-protein interactions, and subcellular localization. CK2 has evolved as an essential housekeeping kinase in plants that modifies protein function in a dynamic way. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the role of CK2 in plant development.
Krzymuski M, Cerdán PD, Zhu L, Vinh A, Chory J, Huq E, Casal JJ. Phytochrome A antagonizes PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 1 to prevent over-activation of photomorphogenesis. Mol Plant. 7 (9) :1415-28.Abstract
Phytochrome A (phyA) is crucial to initiate the early steps of the transition between skoto- and photomorphogenesis upon light exposure and to complete this process under far-red light (typical of dense vegetation canopies). However, under prolonged red or white light, phyA mutants are hyper-photomorphogenic in many respects. To investigate this issue, we analyzed the late response of the transcriptome of the phyA mutant to red light. Compared to the wild-type (WT), hyper-responsive genes outnumbered the genes showing reduced response to red light in phyA. A network analysis revealed the co-expression of PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 1 (PIF1) with those genes showing hyper-promotion by red light in phyA. The enhanced responses of gene expression, cotyledon unfolding, hypocotyl growth, and greening observed in the phyA mutant compared to the WT were absent in the phyA pif1 double mutant compared to pif1, indicating that the hyper-photomorphogenic phenotype of phyA requires PIF1. PIF1 directly binds to gene promoters that displayed PIF1-mediated enhanced response to red light. Expression of mutant PIF1 deficient in interactions with phyA and phyB enhanced the long-term growth response to red light but reduced the expression of selected genes in response to red light. We propose that phytochrome-mediated degradation of PIF1 prevents over-activation of photomorphogenesis during early seedling development.
Xu X, Paik I, Zhu L, Bu Q, Huang X, Deng XW, Huq E. PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR1 Enhances the E3 Ligase Activity of CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 to Synergistically Repress Photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 26 (5) :1992-2006.Abstract
CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1) is a RING/WD40 repeat-containing ubiquitin E3 ligase that is conserved from plants to humans. COP1 forms complexes with SUPPRESSOR OF PHYTOCHROME A (SPA) proteins, and these complexes degrade positively acting transcription factors in the dark to repress photomorphogenesis. Phytochrome-interacting basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors (PIFs) also repress photomorphogenesis in the dark. In response to light, the phytochrome family of sensory photoreceptors simultaneously inactivates COP1-SPA complexes and induces the rapid degradation of PIFs to promote photomorphogenesis. However, the functional relationship between PIFs and COP1-SPA complexes is still unknown. Here, we present genetic evidence that the pif and cop1/spa Arabidopsis thaliana mutants synergistically promote photomorphogenesis in the dark. LONG HYPOCOTYL5 (HY5) is stabilized in the cop1 pif1, spa123 pif1, and pif double, triple, and quadruple mutants in the dark. Moreover, the hy5 mutant suppresses the constitutive photomorphogenic phenotypes of the pifq mutant in the dark. PIF1 forms complexes with COP1, HY5, and SPA1 and enhances the substrate recruitment and autoubiquitylation and transubiquitylation activities of COP1. These data uncover a novel function of PIFs as the potential cofactors of COP1 and provide a genetic and biochemical model of how PIFs and COP1-SPA complexes synergistically repress photomorphogenesis in the dark.
Bu Q, Lv T, Shen H, Luong P, Wang J, Wang Z, Huang Z, Xiao L, Engineer C, Kim TH, et al. Regulation of drought tolerance by the F-box protein MAX2 in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 164 (1) :424-39.Abstract
MAX2 (for MORE AXILLARY GROWTH2) has been shown to regulate diverse biological processes, including plant architecture, photomorphogenesis, senescence, and karrikin signaling. Although karrikin is a smoke-derived abiotic signal, a role for MAX2 in abiotic stress response pathways is least investigated. Here, we show that the max2 mutant is strongly hypersensitive to drought stress compared with wild-type Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Stomatal closure of max2 was less sensitive to abscisic acid (ABA) than that of the wild type. Cuticle thickness of max2 was significantly thinner than that of the wild type. Both of these phenotypes of max2 mutant plants correlate with the increased water loss and drought-sensitive phenotype. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses showed that the expression of stress-responsive genes and ABA biosynthesis, catabolism, transport, and signaling genes was impaired in max2 compared with wild-type seedlings in response to drought stress. Double mutant analysis of max2 with the ABA-insensitive mutants abi3 and abi5 indicated that MAX2 may function upstream of these genes. The expression of ABA-regulated genes was enhanced in imbibed max2 seeds. In addition, max2 mutant seedlings were hypersensitive to ABA and osmotic stress, including NaCl, mannitol, and glucose. Interestingly, ABA, osmotic stress, and drought-sensitive phenotypes were restricted to max2, and the strigolactone biosynthetic pathway mutants max1, max3, and max4 did not display any defects in these responses. Taken together, these results uncover an important role for MAX2 in plant responses to abiotic stress conditions.
Zhu L, Huq E. Suicidal co-degradation of the phytochrome interacting factor 3 and phytochrome B in response to light. Mol Plant. 7 (12) :1709-11.
2012
Mulekar JJ, Bu Q, Chen F, Huq E. Casein kinase II α subunits affect multiple developmental and stress-responsive pathways in Arabidopsis. Plant J. 69 (2) :343-54.Abstract
Casein kinase II (formerly known as CK2), a ubiquitous Ser/Thr kinase, plays critical roles in all higher organisms including plants. The CK2 holoenzyme consists of two catalytic α subunits and two regulatory β subunits. The Arabidopsis genome has four α subunit and four β subunit genes, and members of both the α and β subunit families have been shown to be localized in the cytoplasm, nucleus and also in chloroplasts. However, the biological roles of CK2 subunits have not been fully characterized yet. Here we identified T-DNA insertion mutants in three α subunit genes (α1, α2 and α3) and made double and triple mutants. The CK2 α1α2α3 triple mutants displayed reduced CK2 activity compared with wild-type seedlings. Phenotypic characterization showed that CK2 α1α2α3 triple mutants are late flowering under both long- and short-day conditions. Genes encoding floral integrators are differentially regulated in the triple mutant compared with the wild-type plants. CK2 α1α2α3 triple mutants also displayed reduced hypocotyl growth, smaller cotyledon size and a reduced number of lateral roots compared with wild-type seedlings under light. Abscisic acid-induced blockage of seed germination and cotyledon greening is reduced in CK2 α subunit mutants in an additive manner. Moreover, CK2 α subunit mutants are also hyposensitive to a NaCl-induced blockage of seed germination. Taken together, these data suggest that CK2 α subunits affect diverse developmental and stress responsive pathways in Arabidopsis.
Mulekar JJ, Huq E. Does CK2 affect flowering time by modulating the autonomous pathway in Arabidopsis?. Plant Signal Behav. 7 (2) :292-4.Abstract
CK2 (Casein Kinase II), a ubiquitous Ser/Thr kinase, affects multiple developmental and stress response pathways in Arabidopsis, including flowering time under both long- and short-day conditions through the photoperiod and autonomous pathways. CK2 phosphorylates central clock components, CCA1 and LHY, to modulate circadian clock that regulates flowering time through the photoperiod pathway. However, how CK2 regulates flowering time through the autonomous pathway is still unknown. Analyses of phosphorylation sites using several prediction softwares show that most of the autonomous pathway components have multiple CK2 phosphorylation sites. CK2 might phosphorylate any or all of these components to modulate their activity/stability resulting in altered expression of FLC that drives flowering time through the autonomous pathway.
Sung S, Huq E, Chen JZ. International plant molecular biology: a bright future for green science. Genome Biol. 13 (11) :323.Abstract
A report on the 10th International Congress of Plant Molecular Biology, Jeju, South Korea, October 21-26, 2012.
Shen H, Zhu L, Bu Q-Y, Huq E. MAX2 affects multiple hormones to promote photomorphogenesis. Mol Plant. 5 (3) :750-62.Abstract
Ubiquitin-26S proteasome system (UPS) has been shown to play central roles in light and hormone-regulated plant growth and development. Previously, we have shown that MAX2, an F-box protein, positively regulates facets of photomorphogenic development in response to light. However, how MAX2 controls these responses is still unknown. Here, we show that MAX2 oppositely regulates GA and ABA biosynthesis to optimize seed germination in response to light. Dose-response curves showed that max2 seeds are hyposensitive to GA and hypersensitive to ABA in seed germination responses. RT-PCR assays demonstrated that the expression of GA biosynthetic genes is down-regulated, while the expression of GA catabolic genes is up-regulated in the max2 seeds compared to wild-type. Interestingly, expression of both ABA biosynthetic and catabolic genes is up-regulated in the max2 seeds compared to wild-type. Treatment with an auxin transport inhibitor, NPA, showed that increased auxin transport in max2 seedlings contributes to the long hypocotyl phenotype under light. Moreover, light-signaling phenotypes are restricted to max2, as the biosynthetic mutants in the strigolactone pathway, max1, max3, and max4, did not display any defects in seed germination and seedling de-etiolation compared to wild-type. Taken together, these data suggest that MAX2 modulates multiple hormone pathways to affect photomorphogenesis.
2011
Bu Q, Castillon A, Chen F, Zhu L, Huq E. Dimerization and blue light regulation of PIF1 interacting bHLH proteins in Arabidopsis. Plant Mol Biol. 77 (4-5) :501-11.Abstract
Phytochrome Interacting Factor 1 (PIF1), a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) protein, functions as a negative regulator of various facets of photomorphogenesis. To indentify PIF1-interacting proteins, we performed yeast two-hybrid screening using PIF1 as a bait and identified a group of proteins including PIF1 itself, PIF3 and long hypocotyl in far-red 1 (HFR1), an atypical HLH protein. Directed yeast two-hybrid interaction assays showed that PIF1 can form heterodimers with all other PIFs as well as with HFR1. PIF1 and PIF3 interacted with each other in both in vitro and in vivo co-immunoprecipitation assays. PIF1-PIF3 heterodimer also bound to a G-box DNA sequence element in vitro. To understand the biological significance of these interactions, a pif1pif3 double mutant was obtained and characterized. Analyses of the single and double mutants showed that PIF3 plays a prominent role in repressing photomorphogenesis under continuous blue light conditions. pif1 and pif3 showed additive phenotypes more prominently under discontinuous blue light conditions. Similar to PIF1, PIF3 was also rapidly phosphorylated, poly-ubiquitylated and degraded in response to blue light. PIF3 also interacted with phytochromes in response to blue light. A PIF3 mutant defective in interaction with both phyA and phyB displayed reduced degradation under blue light, suggesting that phy-interaction was necessary for the blue light-induced degradation of PIF3. Taken together, these data suggest a combinatorial control of photomorphogenesis by bHLH proteins in response to light in Arabidopsis.
Zhu L, Huq E. Mapping functional domains of transcription factors. Methods Mol Biol. 754 :167-84.Abstract
Transcription factors are modular in nature in all organisms. In general, they have a DNA binding domain, one or more transcription activation and/or repressor domain, and often a dimerization domain. In many cases, transcription factors also have other protein-protein interaction domain(s). Mapping these functional domains in transcription factors is critical in understanding their molecular function. In this chapter, protocols for mapping the DNA binding domain and the transcription activation domain of a bHLH class of transcription factor are described. In principle, these protocols can be applied to other classes of transcription factors for mapping their functional domains.
Bu Q, Zhu L, Huq E. Multiple kinases promote light-induced degradation of PIF1. Plant Signal Behav. 6 (8) :1119-21.Abstract
Phytochrome (phy) family of photoreceptors is a broad sensor of environmental light signals that promote photomorphogenic development of plants. Phytochrome Interacting Factors (PIFs), bHLH family of transcription factors, repress photomorphogenesis in the dark in an overlapping manner. Phytochromes interact with PIFs in response to light and induce rapid phosphorylation, poly-ubiquitylation and degradation of PIFs through the ubiquitin/26S proteasome pathway to promote photomorphogenesis. Structure-function analyses with PIF family members revealed that multiple domains are necessary for the light-induced phosphorylation and degradation of PIFs. CK2, a ubiquitious Ser/Thr kinase, phosphorylates PIF1 independent of light. In addition, PIF1 mutants deficient in CK2 phosphorylation sites are still robustly phosphorylated but not efficiently degraded in response to light. These data suggest that multiple kinases phosphorylate PIF1 to promote light-induced degradation and photomorphogenesis.
Bu Q, Zhu L, Dennis MD, Yu L, Lu SX, Person MD, Tobin EM, Browning KS, Huq E. Phosphorylation by CK2 enhances the rapid light-induced degradation of phytochrome interacting factor 1 in Arabidopsis. J Biol Chem. 286 (14) :12066-74.Abstract
The phytochrome family of sensory photoreceptors interacts with phytochrome interacting factors (PIFs), repressors of photomorphogenesis, in response to environmental light signals and induces rapid phosphorylation and degradation of PIFs to promote photomorphogenesis. However, the kinase that phosphorylates PIFs is still unknown. Here we show that CK2 directly phosphorylates PIF1 at multiple sites. α1 and α2 subunits individually phosphorylated PIF1 weakly in vitro. However, each of four β subunits strongly stimulated phosphorylation of PIF1 by α1 or α2. Mapping of the phosphorylation sites identified seven Ser/Thr residues scattered throughout PIF1. Ser/Thr to Ala scanning mutations at all seven sites eliminated CK2-mediated phosphorylation of PIF1 in vitro. Moreover, the rate of degradation of the Ser/Thr to Ala mutant PIF1 was significantly reduced compared with wild-type PIF1 in transgenic plants. In addition, hypocotyl lengths of the mutant PIF1 transgenic plants were much longer than the wild-type PIF1 transgenic plants under light, suggesting that the mutant PIF1 is suppressing photomorphogenesis. Taken together, these data suggest that CK2-mediated phosphorylation enhances the light-induced degradation of PIF1 to promote photomorphogenesis.
Dyachok J, Zhu L, Liao F, He J, Huq E, Blancaflor EB. SCAR mediates light-induced root elongation in Arabidopsis through photoreceptors and proteasomes. Plant Cell. 23 (10) :3610-26.Abstract
The ARP2/3 complex, a highly conserved nucleator of F-actin, and its activator, the SCAR complex, are essential for growth in plants and animals. In this article, we present a pathway through which roots of Arabidopsis thaliana directly perceive light to promote their elongation. The ARP2/3-SCAR complex and the maintenance of longitudinally aligned F-actin arrays are crucial components of this pathway. The involvement of the ARP2/3-SCAR complex in light-regulated root growth is supported by our finding that mutants of the SCAR complex subunit BRK1/HSPC300, or other individual subunits of the ARP2/3-SCAR complex, showed a dramatic inhibition of root elongation in the light, which mirrored reduced growth of wild-type roots in the dark. SCAR1 degradation in dark-grown wild-type roots by constitutive photomorphogenic 1 (COP1) E3 ligase and 26S proteasome accompanied the loss of longitudinal F-actin and reduced root growth. Light perceived by the root photoreceptors, cryptochrome and phytochrome, suppressed COP1-mediated SCAR1 degradation. Taken together, our data provide a biochemical explanation for light-induced promotion of root elongation by the ARP2/3-SCAR complex.
2010
Toledo-Ortiz G, Huq E, Rodríguez-Concepción M. Direct regulation of phytoene synthase gene expression and carotenoid biosynthesis by phytochrome-interacting factors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107 (25) :11626-31.Abstract
Carotenoids are key for plants to optimize carbon fixing using the energy of sunlight. They contribute to light harvesting but also channel energy away from chlorophylls to protect the photosynthetic apparatus from excess light. Phytochrome-mediated light signals are major cues regulating carotenoid biosynthesis in plants, but we still lack fundamental knowledge on the components of this signaling pathway. Here we show that phytochrome-interacting factor 1 (PIF1) and other transcription factors of the phytochrome-interacting factor (PIF) family down-regulate the accumulation of carotenoids by specifically repressing the gene encoding phytoene synthase (PSY), the main rate-determining enzyme of the pathway. Both in vitro and in vivo evidence demonstrate that PIF1 directly binds to the promoter of the PSY gene, and that this binding results in repression of PSY expression. Light-triggered degradation of PIFs after interaction with photoactivated phytochromes during deetiolation results in a rapid derepression of PSY gene expression and a burst in the production of carotenoids in coordination with chlorophyll biosynthesis and chloroplast development for an optimal transition to photosynthetic metabolism. Our results also suggest a role for PIF1 and other PIFs in transducing light signals to regulate PSY gene expression and carotenoid accumulation during daily cycles of light and dark in mature plants.
Kwon T, Huq E, Herrin DL. Microhomology-mediated and nonhomologous repair of a double-strand break in the chloroplast genome of Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107 (31) :13954-9.Abstract
Chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) is under great photooxidative stress, yet its evolution is very conservative compared with nuclear or mitochondrial genomes. It can be expected that DNA repair mechanisms play important roles in cpDNA survival and evolution, but they are poorly understood. To gain insight into how the most severe form of DNA damage, a double-strand break (DSB), is repaired, we have developed an inducible system in Arabidopsis that employs a psbA intron endonuclease from Chlamydomonas, I-CreII, that is targeted to the chloroplast using the rbcS1 transit peptide. In Chlamydomonas, an I-CreII-induced DSB in psbA was repaired, in the absence of the intron, by homologous recombination between repeated sequences (20-60 bp) abundant in that genome; Arabidopsis cpDNA is very repeat poor, however. Phenotypically strong and weak transgenic lines were examined and shown to correlate with I-CreII expression levels. Southern blot hybridizations indicated a substantial loss of DNA at the psbA locus, but not cpDNA as a whole, in the strongly expressing line. PCR analysis identified deletions nested around the I-CreII cleavage site indicative of DSB repair using microhomology (6-12 bp perfect repeats, or 10-16 bp with mismatches) and no homology. These results provide evidence of alternative DSB repair pathways in the Arabidopsis chloroplast that resemble the nuclear, microhomology-mediated and nonhomologous end joining pathways, in terms of the homology requirement. Moreover, when taken together with the results from Chlamydomonas, the data suggest an evolutionary relationship may exist between the repeat structure of the genome and the organelle's ability to repair broken chromosomes.
2009
Castillon A, Shen H, Huq E. Blue light induces degradation of the negative regulator phytochrome interacting factor 1 to promote photomorphogenic development of Arabidopsis seedlings. Genetics. 182 (1) :161-71.Abstract
Phytochrome interacting factors (PIFs) are nuclear basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors that negatively regulate photomorphogenesis both in the dark and in the light in Arabidopsis. The phytochrome (phy) family of photoreceptors induces the rapid phosphorylation and degradation of PIFs in response to both red and far-red light conditions to promote photomorphogenesis. Although phys have been shown to function under blue light conditions, the roles of PIFs under blue light have not been investigated in detail. Here we show that PIF1 negatively regulates photomorphogenesis at the seedling stage under blue light conditions. pif1 seedlings displayed more open cotyledons and slightly reduced hypocotyl length compared to wild type under diurnal (12 hr light/12 hr dark) blue light conditions. Double-mutant analyses demonstrated that pif1phyA, pif1phyB, pif1cry1, and pif1cry2 have enhanced cotyledon opening compared to the single photoreceptor mutants under diurnal blue light conditions. Blue light induced the rapid phosphorylation, polyubiquitination, and degradation of PIF1 through the ubi/26S proteasomal pathway. PIF1 interacted with phyA and phyB in a blue light-dependent manner, and the interactions with phys are necessary for the blue light-induced degradation of PIF1. phyA played a dominant role under pulses of blue light, while phyA, phyB, and phyD induced the degradation of PIF1 in an additive manner under prolonged continuous blue light conditions. Interestingly, the absence of cry1 and cry2 enhanced the degradation of PIF1 under blue light conditions. Taken together, these data suggest that PIF1 functions as a negative regulator of photomorphogenesis under blue light conditions and that blue light-activated phys induce the degradation of PIF1 through the ubi/26S proteasomal pathway to promote photomorphogenesis.
2008
Shen H, Zhu L, Castillon A, Majee M, Downie B, Huq E. Light-induced phosphorylation and degradation of the negative regulator PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR1 from Arabidopsis depend upon its direct physical interactions with photoactivated phytochromes. Plant Cell. 20 (6) :1586-602.Abstract
The phytochrome (phy) family of photoreceptors regulates changes in gene expression in response to red/far-red light signals in part by physically interacting with constitutively nucleus-localized phy-interacting basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors (PIFs). Here, we show that PIF1, the member with the highest affinity for phys, is strongly sensitive to the quality and quantity of light. phyA plays a dominant role in regulating the degradation of PIF1 following initial light exposure, while phyB and phyD and possibly other phys also influence PIF1 degradation after prolonged illumination. PIF1 is rapidly phosphorylated and ubiquitinated under red and far-red light before being degraded with a half-life of approximately 1 to 2 min under red light. Although PIF1 interacts with phyB through a conserved active phyB binding motif, it interacts with phyA through a novel active phyA binding motif. phy interaction is necessary but not sufficient for the light-induced phosphorylation and degradation of PIF1. Domain-mapping studies reveal that the phy interaction, light-induced degradation, and transcriptional activation domains are located at the N-terminal 150-amino acid region of PIF1. Unlike PIF3, PIF1 does not interact with the two halves of either phyA or phyB separately. Moreover, overexpression of a light-stable truncated form of PIF1 causes constitutively photomorphogenic phenotypes in the dark. Taken together, these data suggest that removal of the negative regulators (e.g., PIFs) by light-induced proteolytic degradation might be sufficient to promote photomorphogenesis.
Leivar P, Monte E, Oka Y, Liu T, Carle C, Castillon A, Huq E, Quail PH. Multiple phytochrome-interacting bHLH transcription factors repress premature seedling photomorphogenesis in darkness. Curr Biol. 18 (23) :1815-23.Abstract
BACKGROUND: An important contributing factor to the success of terrestrial flowering plants in colonizing the land was the evolution of a developmental strategy, termed skotomorphogenesis, whereby postgerminative seedlings emerging from buried seed grow vigorously upward in the subterranean darkness toward the soil surface. RESULTS: Here we provide genetic evidence that a central component of the mechanism underlying this strategy is the collective repression of premature photomorphogenic development in dark-grown seedlings by several members of the phytochrome (phy)-interacting factor (PIF) subfamily of bHLH transcription factors (PIF1, PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5). Conversely, evidence presented here and elsewhere collectively indicates that a significant component of the mechanism by which light initiates photomorphogenesis upon first exposure of dark-grown seedlings to irradiation involves reversal of this repression by rapid reduction in the abundance of these PIF proteins, through degradation induced by direct interaction of the photoactivated phy molecule with the transcription factors. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that bHLH transcription factors PIF1, PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5 act as constitutive repressors of photomorphogenesis in the dark, action that is rapidly abrogated upon light exposure by phy-induced proteolytic degradation of these PIFs, allowing the initiation of photomorphogenesis to occur.

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