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Plant J. 2004 Jun;38(5):765-78.

Light induces phenylpropanoid metabolism in Arabidopsis roots.

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Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, 1516 South University Dr, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1153, USA.


Experiments have shown that many phenylpropanoid genes are highly expressed in light-grown Arabidopsis roots. Studies employing reporter gene constructs have indicated that the expression of these genes is localized not only to the lignifying root vasculature, but also to non-lignifying tissues, such as the root cortex, suggesting that the proteins encoded by these genes may be involved in aspects of phenylpropanoid metabolism other than lignification. Consistent with this hypothesis, roots of etiolated and soil-grown plants contain almost no soluble phenylpropanoids, but exposure to light leads to the accumulation of flavonoids, as well as high levels of coniferin and syringin (coniferyl and sinapyl-4-O-glycosides), compounds not previously reported to be accumulated in Arabidopsis. To elucidate the mechanism by which light induces root secondary metabolism, extracts of mutants defective in light perception and light responses were analyzed for phenylpropanoid content. The results of these assays showed that phytochrome (PHY)B and cryptochrome (CRY)2 are the primary photoreceptors involved in light-dependent phenylpropanoid accumulation, and that the hypocotyl elongated (HY5) transcription factor is also required for this response. The presence of phenylpropanoids in etiolated roots of cop (constitutively photomorphogenic)1, cop9, and det (de-etiolated)1 mutants indicate that the corresponding wild-type genes are required to repress root phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in the absence of light. Biochemical analysis of root cell walls and analysis of phenylpropanoid gene expression suggest that coniferin and syringin accumulation may be the result of both increased biosynthesis and decreased conversion of these compounds into other phenylpropanoid end products. Finally, our data suggest that the accumulation of coniferin, syringin, and flavonoids in Arabidopsis roots is a high-irradiance response (HIR), and suggest that comparative analysis of light- and dark-grown Arabidopsis roots may provide new insights into both phenylpropanoid biosynthesis and light signaling in plants.

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