Light plays a profound role in plant development, yet how photoreceptor excitation directs phenotypic plasticity remains elusive. One of the earliest effects of light is the regulated translocation of the red/far-red photoreceptors, phytochromes, from the cytoplasm to subnuclear foci called phytochrome nuclear bodies. The function of these nuclear bodies is unknown. We report the identification of hemera, a seedling lethal mutant of Arabidopsis with altered phytochrome nuclear body patterns. hemera mutants are impaired in all phytochrome responses examined, including proteolysis of phytochrome A and phytochrome-interacting transcription factors. HEMERA was identified previously as pTAC12, a component of a plastid complex associated with transcription. Here, we show that HEMERA has a function in the nucleus, where it acts specifically in phytochrome signaling, is predicted to be structurally similar to the multiubiquitin-binding protein, RAD23, and can partially rescue yeast rad23mutants. Together, these results implicate phytochrome nuclear bodies as sites of proteolysis.
Plant development is profoundly regulated by ambient light cues through the red/far-red photoreceptors, the phytochromes. Early phytochrome signaling events include the translocation of phytochromes from the cytoplasm to subnuclear domains called photobodies and the degradation of antagonistically acting phytochrome-interacting factors (PIFs). We recently identified a key phytochrome signaling component, HEMERA (HMR), that is essential for both phytochrome B (phyB) localization to photobodies and PIF degradation. However, the signaling mechanism linking phytochromes and HMR is unknown. Here we show that phytochromes directly interact with HMR to promote HMR protein accumulation in the light. HMR binds more strongly to the active form of phytochromes. This interaction is mediated by the photosensory domains of phytochromes and two phytochrome-interacting regions in HMR. Missense mutations in either HMR or phyB that alter the phytochrome/HMR interaction can also change HMR levels and photomorphogenetic responses. HMR accumulation in a constitutively active phyB mutant (YHB) is required for YHB-dependent PIF3 degradation in the dark. Our genetic and biochemical studies strongly support a novel phytochrome signaling mechanism in which photoactivated phytochromes directly interact with HMR and promote HMR accumulation, which in turn mediates the formation of photobodies and the degradation of PIFs to establish photomorphogenesis.
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