Dynamics of mRNA fate during light stress and recovery: from transcription to stability and translation

Plant J. 2024 Feb;117(3):818-839. doi: 10.1111/tpj.16531. Epub 2023 Nov 10.


Transcript stability is an important determinant of its abundance and, consequently, translational output. Transcript destabilisation can be rapid and is well suited for modulating the cellular response. However, it is unclear the extent to which RNA stability is altered under changing environmental conditions in plants. We previously hypothesised that recovery-induced transcript destabilisation facilitated a phenomenon of rapid recovery gene downregulation (RRGD) in Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) following light stress, based on mathematical calculations to account for ongoing transcription. Here, we test this hypothesis and investigate processes regulating transcript abundance and fate by quantifying changes in transcription, stability and translation before, during and after light stress. We adapt syringe infiltration to apply a transcriptional inhibitor to soil-grown plants in combination with stress treatments. Compared with measurements in juvenile plants and cell culture, we find reduced stability across a range of transcripts encoding proteins involved in RNA binding and processing. We also observe light-induced destabilisation of transcripts, followed by their stabilisation during recovery. We propose that this destabilisation facilitates RRGD, possibly in combination with transcriptional shut-off that was confirmed for HSP101, ROF1 and GOLS1. We also show that translation remains highly dynamic over the course of light stress and recovery, with a bias towards transcript-specific increases in ribosome association, independent of changes in total transcript abundance, after 30 min of light stress. Taken together, we provide evidence for the combinatorial regulation of transcription and stability that occurs to coordinate translation during light stress and recovery in Arabidopsis.

Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; light stress; mRNA stability; recovery; translation.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis Proteins* / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins* / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • ROF1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins