In early seedling development, far-red-light-induced deetiolation is mediated primarily by phytochrome A (phyA), whereas red-light-induced deetiolation is mediated primarily by phytochrome B (phyB). To map the molecular determinants responsible for this photosensory specificity, we tested the activities of two reciprocal phyA/phyB chimeras in diagnostic light regimes using overexpression in transgenic Arabidopsis. Although previous data have shown that the NH2-terminal halves of phyA and phyB each separately lack normal activity, fusion of the NH2-terminal half of phyA to the COOH-terminal half of phyB (phyAB) and the reciprocal fusion (phyBA) resulted in biologically active phytochromes. The behavior of these two chimeras in red and far-red light indicates: (i) that the NH2-terminal halves of phyA and phyB determine their respective photosensory specificities; (ii) that the COOH-terminal halves of the two photoreceptors are necessary for regulatory activity but are reciprocally inter-changeable and thus carry functionally equivalent determinants; and (iii) that the NH2-terminal halves of phyA and phyB carry determinants that direct the differential light lability of the two molecules. The present findings suggest that the contrasting photosensory information gathered by phyA and phyB through their NH2-terminal halves may be transduced to downstream signaling components through a common biochemical mechanism involving the regulatory activity of the COOH-terminal domains of the photoreceptors.
Wagner, DFairchild, C DKuhn, R MQuail, P HGM47475/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 30;93(9):4011-5.