LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL regulates photoperiodic flowering via the circadian clock in Arabidopsis

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Park, Mi-Jeong; Kwon, Young-Ju; Gil, Kyung-Eun; Park, Chung-Mo
Issue Date
BioMed Central
BMC Plant Biology, 16(1):114
Arabidopsis thalianaCircadian clockFlowering timeLHYPhotoperiod
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Plants constantly monitor changes in photoperiod or day length to trigger the flowering cycle at the most appropriate time of the year. It is well established that photoperiodic flowering is intimately associated with the circadian clock in Arabidopsis. In support of this notion, many clock-defective mutants exhibit altered photoperiodic sensitivity in inducing flowering. LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) and its functional paralogue CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) constitute the core of the circadian clock together with TIMING OF CAB EXPRSSION 1 (TOC1). While it is known that TOC1 contributes to the timing of flowering entirely by modulating the clock function, molecular mechanisms by which LHY and CCA1 regulate flowering time have not been explored.

We investigated how LHY and CCA1 regulate photoperiodic flowering through molecular genetic and biochemical studies. It was found that LHY-defective mutants (lhy-7 and lhy-20) exhibit accelerated flowering under both long days (LDs) and short days (SDs). Consistent with the accelerated flowering phenotypes, gene expression analysis revealed that expression of the floral integrator FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) is up-regulated in the lhy mutants. In addition, the expression peaks of GIGANTEA (GI) and FLAVIN-BINDING, KELCH REPEAT, F-BOX PROTEIN 1 (FKF1) genes, which constitute the clock output pathway that is linked with photoperiodic flowering, were advanced by approximately 4 h in the mutants. Furthermore, the up-regulation of FT disappeared when the endogenous circadian period is matched to the external light/dark cycles in the lhy-7 mutant. Notably, whereas CCA1 binds strongly to FT gene promoter, LHY does not show such DNA-binding activity.

Our data indicate that the advanced expression phases of photoperiodic flowering genes are associated with the clock defects in the lhy mutants and responsible for the reduced photoperiodic sensitivity of the mutant flowering, demonstrating that LHY regulates photoperiodic flowering via the circadian clock, similar to what has been shown with TOC1. It is notable that while LHY regulates photoperiodic flowering in a similar manner as with TOC1, the underlying molecular mechanism would be somewhat distinct from that exerted by CCA1 in Arabidopsis.
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