Light signal transduction in higher plants

Annu Rev Genet. 2004;38:87-117. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.38.072902.092259.


Plants utilize several families of photoreceptors to fine-tune growth and development over a large range of environmental conditions. The UV-A/blue light sensing phototropins mediate several light responses enabling optimization of photosynthetic yields. The initial event occurring upon photon capture is a conformational change of the photoreceptor that activates its protein kinase activity. The UV-A/blue light sensing cryptochromes and the red/far-red sensing phytochromes coordinately control seedling establishment, entrainment of the circadian clock, and the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth. In addition, the phytochromes control seed germination and shade-avoidance responses. The molecular mechanisms involved include light-regulated subcellular localization of the photoreceptors, a large reorganization of the transcriptional program, and light-regulated proteolytic degradation of several photoreceptors and signaling components.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cryptochromes
  • Flavoproteins / chemistry
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism
  • Isomerism
  • Light Signal Transduction*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / metabolism
  • Phototropism
  • Phytochrome / chemistry
  • Phytochrome / metabolism
  • Plant Development
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CRY1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Cryptochromes
  • Flavoproteins
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Phytochrome