Regulation of phytochrome B nuclear localization through light-dependent unmasking of nuclear-localization signals

Curr Biol. 2005 Apr 12;15(7):637-42. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.02.028.


Phytochromes are red and far-red photoreceptors that regulate plant growth and development in response to environmental light cues. Phytochromes exist in two photo-interconvertible conformational states: an inactive Pr form and an active Pfr form. The alteration of phytochromes' subcellular location functions as a major regulatory mechanism of their biological activities. Whereas phytochromes in the Pr form localize in the cytoplasm, phytochromes in the Pfr form accumulate in the nucleus, where they interact with transcription factors to regulate gene expression. The molecular details of the regulation of phytochrome translocation by light are poorly understood. Using Arabidopsis phyB as a model, we demonstrate that the C-terminal PAS-related domain (PRD) is both necessary and sufficient for phyB nuclear import and that the entire C terminus is required for nuclear-body (NB) localization. We also show that phyB's N-terminal bilin lyase domain (BLD) and PHY domain interact directly with the PRD in a light-dependent manner. In vivo localization studies indicate that BLD-PHY is sufficient to regulate phyB's nuclear accumulation. For phyB nuclear localization, our results suggest a molecular mechanism in which the nuclear-localization signal in the PRD is masked by interactions with phyB's chromophore-attachment domains and unmasked by light-dependent conformational changes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Light*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Phytochrome / metabolism*
  • Phytochrome / physiology
  • Phytochrome B
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


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