Interaction with plant transcription factors can mediate nuclear import of phytochrome B

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 10;109(15):5892-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1120764109. Epub 2012 Mar 26.


Phytochromes (phy) are red/far-red-absorbing photoreceptors that regulate the adaption of plant growth and development to changes in ambient light conditions. The nuclear transport of the phytochromes upon light activation is regarded as a key step in phytochrome signaling. Although nuclear import of phyA is regulated by the transport facilitators far red elongated hypocotyl 1 (FHY1) and fhy1-like, an intrinsic nuclear localization signal was proposed to be involved in the nuclear accumulation of phyB. We recently showed that nuclear import of phytochromes can be analyzed in a cell-free system consisting of isolated nuclei of the unicellular green algae Acetabularia acetabulum. We now show that this system is also versatile to elucidate the mechanism of the nuclear transport of phyB. We tested the nuclear transport characteristics of full-length phyB as well as N- and C-terminal phyB fragments in vitro and showed that the nuclear import of phyB can be facilitated by phytochrome-interacting factor 3 (PIF3). In vivo measurements of phyB nuclear accumulation in the absence of PIF1, -3, -4, and -5 indicate that these PIFs are the major transport facilitators during the first hours of deetiolation. Under prolonged irradiations additional factors might be responsible for phyB nuclear transport in the plant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetabularia / metabolism
  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Phytochrome B / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • PHYB protein, Arabidopsis
  • PIF3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Phytochrome B