A quantitative model of the phytochrome-PIF light signalling initiating chloroplast development
Dubreuil C, Ji Y, Strand A, Gronlund A

The components required for photosynthesis are encoded in two separate genomes, the nuclear and the plastid. To address how synchronization of the two genomes involved can be attained in early light-signalling during chloroplast development we have formulated and experimentally tested a mathematical model simulating light sensing and the following signalling response. The model includes phytochrome B (PhyB), the phytochrome interacting factor 3 (PIF3) and putative regulatory targets of PIF3. Closed expressions of the phyB and PIF3 concentrations after light exposure are derived, which capture the relevant timescales in the response of genes regulated by PIF3. Sequence analysis demonstrated that the promoters of the nuclear genes encoding sigma factors (SIGs) and polymerase-associated proteins (PAPs) required for expression of plastid encoded genes, contain the cis-elements for binding of PIF3. The model suggests a direct link between light inputs via PhyB-PIF3 to the plastid transcription machinery and control over the expression of photosynthesis components both in the nucleus and in the plastids. Using a pluripotent Arabidopsis cell culture in which chloroplasts develop from undifferentiated proplastids following exposure to light, we could experimentally verify that the expression of SIGs and PAPs in response to light follow the calculated expression of a PhyB-PIF3 regulated gene.

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