Blue-light photoreceptors in higher plants

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 1999;15:33-62. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.15.1.33.


In the past few years great progress has been made in identifying and characterizing plant photoreceptors active in the blue/UV-A regions of the spectrum. These photoreceptors include cryptochrome 1 and cryptochrome 2, which are similar in structure and chromophore composition to the prokaryotic DNA photolyases. However, they have a C-terminal extension that is not present in photolyases and lack photolyase activity. They are involved in regulation of cell elongation and in many other processes, including interfacing with circadian rhythms and activating gene transcription. Animal cryptochromes that play a photoreceptor role in circadian rhythms have also been characterized. Phototropin, the protein product of the NPH1 gene in Arabidopsis, likely serves as the photoreceptor for phototropism and appears to have no other role. A plasma membrane protein, it serves as photoreceptor, kinase, and substrate for light-activated phosphorylation. The carotenoid zeaxanthin may serve as the chromophore for a photoreceptor involved in blue-light-activated stomatal opening. The properties of these photoreceptors and some of the downstream events they are known to activate are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis Proteins*
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Eye Proteins*
  • Flavoproteins / genetics
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate*
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins* / classification
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins* / genetics
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins* / metabolism
  • Plants
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • cry protein, Drosophila
  • NPH1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases