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Plant Cell. 1996 Sep;8(9):1491-503.

Expression of an N-terminal fragment of COP1 confers a dominant-negative effect on light-regulated seedling development in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8104, USA.


CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1) is an essential regulatory gene that plays a role in light control of seedling development in Arabidopsis. The COP1 protein possesses three recognizable structural domains: a RING finger zinc binding domain near the N terminus, followed by a coiled-coll domain and a domain with WD-40 repeats in the C-terminal half. To determine whether COP1 acts specifically as a light-inactivable repressor of photomorphogenic development and to elucidate the functional roles of the specific structural domains, mutant cDNAs encoding the N-terminal 282 amino acids (N282) of COP1 were expressed and analyzed in transgenic plants. High-level expression of the N282 fragment caused a dominant-negative phenotype similar to that of the loss-of-function cop1 mutants. The phenotypic characteristics include hypersensitivity of hypocotyl elongation to inhibition by white, blue, red, and far-red light stimuli. In the dark, N282 expression led to pleiotropic photomorphogenic cotyledon development, including cellular differentiation, plastid development, and gene expression, although it has no significant effect on the hypocotyl elongation. However, N282 expression had a minimal effect on the expression of stress- and pathogen-inducible genes. These observations support the hypothesis that COP1 is directly involved in the light control of seedling development and that it acts as a repressor of photomorphogenesis. Further, the results imply that the N282 COP1 fragment, which contains the zinc binding and colled-coil domains, is capable of interacting with either downstream targets or with the endogenous wild-type COP1, thus interfering with normal regulatory processes. The fact the N282 is able to interact with N282 and full-length COP1 in yeast provided evidence for the latter possibility.

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