Repression of light signaling by Arabidopsis SPA1 involves post-translational regulation of HFR1 protein accumulation

Plant J. 2005 Jul;43(1):131-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2005.02433.x.


Arabidopsis uses two major classes of photoreceptors to mediate seedling de-etiolation. The cryptochromes (cry1 and cry2) absorb blue/ultraviolet-A light, whereas the phytochromes (phyA-phyE) predominantly regulate responses to red/far-red light. Arabidopsis COP1 represses light signaling by acting as an E3 ubiquitin ligase in the nucleus, and is responsible for targeted degradation of a number of photomorphogenesis-promoting factors, including HY5, LAF1, phyA, and HFR1. Distinct light signaling pathways initiated by multiple photoreceptors (including both phytochromes and cryptochromes) eventually converge on COP1, causing its inactivation and nuclear depletion. Arabidopsis SPA1, which encodes a protein structurally related to COP1, also represses light signaling under various light conditions. In this study, we present genetic evidence supporting that HFR1, which encodes a photomorphogenesis-promoting bHLH transcription factor, acts downstream of SPA1 and is required for different subsets of branch pathways of light signaling controlled by SPA1 under different light conditions. We show that SPA1 physically interacts with HFR1 in a yeast two-hybrid assay and an in vitro co-immunoprecipitation assay. We demonstrate that higher levels of HFR1 protein accumulate in the spa1 mutant background under various light conditions, including far-red, red, blue, and white light, whereas a marginal increase in HFR1 transcript level is only seen in dark- and far-red light-grown spa1-100 mutants. Together, our data suggest that repression of light signaling by Arabidopsis SPA1 likely involves post-translational regulation of HFR1 protein accumulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / pharmacology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Light*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HFR1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SPA1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • AT2G32950 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases