Phytochrome regulation of cellulose synthesis in Arabidopsis

Curr Biol. 2011 Nov 8;21(21):1822-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.09.026. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


Plant development is highly plastic and dependent on light quantity and quality monitored by specific photoreceptors. Although we have a detailed knowledge of light signaling pathways, little is known about downstream targets involved in growth control. Cell size and shape are in part controlled by cellulose microfibrils extruded from large cellulose synthase complexes (CSCs) that migrate in the plasma membrane along cortical microtubules. Here we show a role for the red/far-red light photoreceptor PHYTOCHROME B (PHYB) in the regulation of cellulose synthesis in the growing Arabidopsis hypocotyl. In this organ, CSCs contains three distinct cellulose synthase (CESA) isoform classes: nonredundant CESA1 and CESA3 and a third class represented by partially redundant CESA2, CESA5, and CESA6. Interestingly, in the dark, depending on which CESA subunits occupy the third position, CSC velocity is more or less inhibited through an interaction with microtubules. Activation of PHYB overrules this inhibition. The analysis of cesa5 mutants shows a role for phosphorylation in the control of CSC velocity. These results, combined with the cesa5 mutant phenotype, suggest that cellulose synthesis is fine tuned through the regulated interaction of CSCs with microtubules and that PHYB signaling impinges on this process to maintain cell wall strength and growth in changing environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / enzymology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Plant
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Hypocotyl / growth & development
  • Hypocotyl / metabolism
  • Light
  • Microfibrils / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Phytochrome B / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Phytochrome B
  • Cellulose
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • cellulose synthase