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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.
Phytochrome signaling in green Arabidopsis seedlings: impact assessment of a mutually negative phyB-PIF feedback loop.
The reversibly red (R)/far-red (FR)-light-responsive phytochrome (phy) photosensory system initiates both the deetiolation process in dark-germinated seedlings upon first exposure to light, and the shade-avoidance process in fully deetiolated seedlings upon exposure to vegetational shade. The intracellular signaling pathway from the light-activated photoreceptor conformer (Pfr) to the transcriptional network that drives these responses involves direct, physical interaction of Pfr with a small subfamily of bHLH transcription factors, termed Phy-Interacting Factors (PIFs), which induces rapid PIF proteolytic degradation. In addition, there is evidence of further complexity in light-grown seedlings, whereby phyB-PIF interaction reciprocally induces phyB degradation, in a mutually-negative, feedback-loop configuration. Here, to assess the relative contributions of these antagonistic activities to the net phenotypic readout in light-grown seedlings, we have examined the magnitude of the light- and simulated-shade-induced responses of a pentuple phyBpif1pif3pif4pif5 (phyBpifq) mutant and various multiple pif-mutant combinations. The data (1) reaffirm that phyB is the predominant, if not exclusive, photoreceptor imposing the inhibition of hypocotyl elongation in deetiolating seedlings in response to prolonged continuous R irradiation and (2) show that the PIF quartet (PIF1, PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5) retain and exert a dual capacity to modulate hypocotyl elongation under these conditions, by concomitantly promoting cell elongation through intrinsic transcriptional-regulatory activity, and reducing phyB-inhibitory capacity through feedback-loop-induced phyB degradation. In shade-exposed seedlings, immunoblot analysis shows that the shade-imposed reduction in Pfr levels induces increases in the abundance of PIF3, and mutant analysis indicates that PIF3 acts, in conjunction with PIF4 and PIF5, to promote the known shade-induced acceleration of hypocotyl elongation. Conversely, although the quadruple pifq mutant displays clearly reduced hypocotyl elongation compared to wild-type in response to prolonged shade, immunoblot analysis detects no elevation in phyB levels in the mutant seedlings compared to the wild-type during the majority of the shade-induced growth period, and phyB levels are not robustly correlated with the growth phenotype across the pif-mutant combinations compared. These results suggest that PIF feedback modulation of phyB abundance does not play a dominant role in modulating the magnitude of the PIF-promoted, shade-responsive phenotype under these conditions. In seedlings grown under diurnal light-dark cycles, the data show that FR-pulse-induced removal of Pfr at the beginning of the dark period (End-of-Day-FR (EOD-FR) treatment) results in longer hypocotyls relative to no EOD-FR treatment and that this effect is attenuated in the pif-mutant combinations tested. This result similarly indicates that the PIF quartet members are capable of intrinsically promoting hypocotyl cell elongation in light-grown plants, independently of the effects of PIF feedback modulation of photoactivated-phyB abundance.
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.