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Phytochrome and retrograde signalling pathways converge to antagonistically regulate a light-induced transcriptional network.
Plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signals emitted by dysfunctional chloroplasts impact photomorphogenic development, but the molecular link between retrograde- and photosensory-receptor signalling has remained unclear. Here, we show that the phytochrome and retrograde signalling (RS) pathways converge antagonistically to regulate the expression of the nuclear-encoded transcription factor GLK1, a key regulator of a light-induced transcriptional network central to photomorphogenesis. GLK1 gene transcription is directly repressed by PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR (PIF)-class bHLH transcription factors in darkness, but light-activated phytochrome reverses this activity, thereby inducing expression. Conversely, we show that retrograde signals repress this induction by a mechanism independent of PIF mediation. Collectively, our data indicate that light at moderate levels acts through the plant's nuclear-localized sensory-photoreceptor system to induce appropriate photomorphogenic development, but at excessive levels, sensed through the separate plastid-localized RS system, acts to suppress such development, thus providing a mechanism for protection against photo-oxidative damage by minimizing the tissue exposure to deleterious radiation.
A light-switchable gene promoter system.
Regulatable transgene systems providing easily controlled, conditional induction or repression of expression are indispensable tools in biomedical and agricultural research and biotechnology. Several such systems have been developed for eukaryotes. Most of these rely on the administration of either exogenous chemicals or heat shock. Despite the general success of many of these systems, the potential for problems, such as toxic, unintended, or pleiotropic effects of the inducing chemical or treatment, can impose limitations on their use. We have developed a promoter system that can be induced, rapidly and reversibly, by short pulses of light. This system is based on the known red light-induced binding of the plant photoreceptor phytochrome to the protein PIF3 and the reversal of this binding by far-red light. We show here that yeast cells expressing two chimeric proteins, a phytochrome-GAL4-DNA-binding-domain fusion and a PIF3-GAL4-activation-domain fusion, are induced by red light to express selectable or "scorable" marker genes containing promoters with a GAL4 DNA-binding site, and that this induction is rapidly abrogated by subsequent far-red light. We further show that the extent of induction can be controlled precisely by titration of the number of photons delivered to the cells by the light pulse. Thus, this system has the potential to provide rapid, noninvasive, switchable control of the expression of a desired gene to a preselected level in any suitable cell by simple exposure to a light signal.
Phytochrome B binds with greater apparent affinity than phytochrome A to the basic helix-loop-helix factor PIF3 in a reaction requiring the PAS domain of PIF3.
The signaling pathways by which the phytochrome (phy) family of photoreceptors transmits sensory information to light-regulated genes remain to be fully defined. Evidence for a relatively direct pathway has been provided by the binding of one member of the family, phyB, to a promoter-element-bound, basic helix-loop-helix protein, PIF3, specifically upon light-induced conversion of the photoreceptor molecule to its biologically active conformer (Pfr). Here, we show that phyA also binds selectively and reversibly to PIF3 upon photoconversion to Pfr, but that the apparent affinity of PIF3 for phyA is 10-fold lower than for phyB. This result is consistent with previous in vivo data from PIF3-deficient Arabidopsis, indicating that PIF3 has a major role in phyB signaling, but a more minor role in phyA signaling. We also show that phyB binds stoichiometrically to PIF3 at an equimolar ratio, suggesting that the resultant complex is the unit active in transcriptional regulation at target promoters. Deletion mapping suggests that a 37-aa segment present at the N terminus of phyB, but absent from phyA, contributes strongly to the high binding affinity of phyB for PIF3. Conversely, deletion mapping and point mutation analysis of PIF3 for determinants involved in recognition of phyB indicates that the PAS domain of PIF3 is a major contributor to this interaction, but that a second determinant in the C-terminal domain is also necessary.
Binding of phytochrome B to its nuclear signalling partner PIF3 is reversibly induced by light.
The phytochrome photoreceptor family directs plant gene expression by switching between biologically inactive and active conformers in response to the sequential absorption of red and farred photons. Several intermediates that act late in the phytochrome signalling pathway have been identified, but fewer have been identified that act early in the pathway. We have cloned a nuclear basic helix-loop-helix protein, PIF3, which can bind to non-photoactive carboxy-terminal fragments of phytochromes A and B and functions in phytochrome signalling in vivo. Here we show that full-length photoactive phytochrome B binds PIF3 in vitro only upon light-induced conversion to its active form, and that photoconversion back to its inactive form causes dissociation from PIF3. We conclude that photosensory signalling by phytochrome B involves light-induced, conformer-specific recognition of the putative transcriptional regulator PIF3, providing a potential mechanism for direct photoregulation of gene expression.