Functional importance of conserved domains in the flowering-time gene CONSTANS demonstrated by analysis of mutant alleles and transgenic plants

Plant J. 2001 Dec;28(6):619-31. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.01163.x.


CONSTANS promotes flowering of Arabidopsis in response to long-day conditions. We show that CONSTANS is a member of an Arabidopsis gene family that comprises 16 other members. The CO-Like proteins encoded by these genes contain two segments of homology: a zinc finger containing region near their amino terminus and a CCT (CO, CO-Like, TOC1) domain near their carboxy terminus. Analysis of seven classical co mutant alleles demonstrated that the mutations all occur within either the zinc finger region or the CCT domain, confirming that the two regions of homology are important for CO function. The zinc fingers are most similar to those of B-boxes, which act as protein-protein interaction domains in several transcription factors described in animals. Segments of CO protein containing the CCT domain localize GFP to the nucleus, but one mutation that affects the CCT domain delays flowering without affecting the nuclear localization function, suggesting that this domain has additional functions. All eight co alleles, including one recovered by pollen irradiation in which DNA encoding both B-boxes is deleted, are shown to be semidominant. This dominance appears to be largely due to a reduction in CO dosage in the heterozygous plants. However, some alleles may also actively delay flowering, because overexpression from the CaMV 35S promoter of the co-3 allele, that has a mutation in the second B-box, delayed flowering of wild-type plants. The significance of these observations for the role of CO in the control of flowering time is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CONSTANS protein, Arabidopsis
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors