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EMBO J. 1998 Oct 1;17(19):5577-87.

Functional dissection of Arabidopsis COP1 reveals specific roles of its three structural modules in light control of seedling development.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, PO Box 208104, 165 Prospect Street, OML 301, New Haven, CT 06520-8104, USA.


Arabidopsis COP1 acts as a repressor of photomorphogenesis in darkness, and light stimuli abrogate the repressive ability and nuclear abundance of COP1. COP1 has three known structural modules: an N-terminal RING-finger, followed by a predicted coiled-coil and C-terminal WD-40 repeats. A systematic study was undertaken to dissect the functional roles of these three COP1 domains in light control of Arabidopsis seedling development. Our data suggest that COP1 acts primarily as a homodimer, and probably dimerizes through the coiled-coil domain. The RING-finger and the coiled-coil domains can function independently as light-responsive modules mediating the light-controlled nucleocytoplasmic partitioning of COP1. The C-terminal WD-40 domain functions as an autonomous repressor module since the overexpression of COP1 mutant proteins with intact WD-40 repeats are able to suppress photomorphogenic development. This WD-40 domain-mediated repression can be at least in part accounted for by COP1's direct interaction with and negative regulation of HY5, a bZIP transcription factor that positively regulates photomorphogenesis. However, COP1 self-association is a prerequisite for the observed interaction of the COP1 WD-40 repeats with HY5. This work thus provides a structural basis of COP1 as a molecular switch.

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