Characterization of the requirements for localization of phytochrome B to nuclear bodies

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 25;100(24):14493-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1935989100. Epub 2003 Nov 11.


Phytochromes are red- and far-red-sensing photoreceptors that detect the quantity, quality, and duration of light throughout the entire life cycle of plants. Phytochromes accumulate in the cytoplasm in the dark. As one of the earliest responses after light illumination, phytochromes localize to the nucleus where they become associated with discrete nuclear bodies (NBs). Here, we describe the steady-state dynamics of Arabidopsis phytochrome B (phyB) localization in response to different light conditions and define four phyB subnuclear localization patterns: diffuse nuclear localization, small and numerous NBs only, both small and large NBs, and large NBs only. We show that phyB nuclear import is not sufficient for phyB NB formation. Rather, phyB accumulation in NBs is mainly determined by the percentage of the total amount of phyB protein that is in the active phyB conformer, with large NBs always correlating with strong phyB responses. A genetic screen to identify determinants required for subnuclear localization of phyB resulted in several phyB mutants, mutants deficient in phytochrome chromophore biosynthesis, and mutations in at least one previously uninvestigated locus. This study lays the groundwork for future investigations to identify the molecular mechanisms of light-regulated partitioning of plant photoreceptors to discrete subnuclear domains.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Light
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Photoreceptor Cells*
  • Phytochrome / genetics
  • Phytochrome / metabolism*
  • Phytochrome B
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Plant
  • PHYB protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phytochrome
  • Phytochrome B