The Arabidopsis COP9 signalosome subunit 7 is a model PCI domain protein with subdomains involved in COP9 signalosome assembly

Plant Cell. 2008 Oct;20(10):2815-34. doi: 10.1105/tpc.107.053801. Epub 2008 Oct 14.


The COP9 Signalosome (CSN) is a multiprotein complex that was originally identified in Arabidopsis thaliana as a negative regulator of photomorphogenesis and subsequently shown to be a general eukaryotic regulator of developmental signaling. The CSN plays various roles, but it has been most often implicated in regulating protein degradation pathways. Six of eight CSN subunits bear a sequence motif called PCI. Here, we report studies of subunit 7 (CSN7) from Arabidopsis, which contains such a motif. Our in vitro and structural results, based on 1.5 A crystallographic data, enable a definition of a PCI domain, built from helical bundle and winged helix subdomains. Using functional binding assays, we demonstrate that the PCI domain (residues 1 to 169) interacts with two other PCI proteins, CSN8 and CSN1. CSN7 interactions with CSN8 use both PCI subdomains. Furthermore, we show that a C-terminal tail outside of this PCI domain is responsible for association with the non-PCI subunit, CSN6. In vivo studies of transgenic plants revealed that the overexpressed CSN7 PCI domain does not assemble into the CSN, nor can it complement a null mutation of CSN7. However, a CSN7 clone that contains the PCI domain plus part of the CSN6 binding domain can complement the null mutation in terms of seedling viability and photomorphogenesis. These transgenic plants, though, are defective in adult growth, suggesting that the CSN7 C-terminal tail plays additional functional roles. Together, the findings have implications for CSN assembly and function, highlighting necessary interactions between subunits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • COP9 Signalosome Complex
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Peptide Hydrolases / chemistry*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Protein Subunits / physiology*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CSN1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • CSN6B protein, Arabidopsis
  • CSN7 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Protein Subunits
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • COP9 Signalosome Complex