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Plant Physiology 130 (1): 102-110

Copyright © 2002 by the American Society of Plant Physiologists.

Plant Physiol, September 2002, Vol. 130, pp. 102-110

The Circadian Clock That Controls Gene Expression in Arabidopsis Is Tissue Specific1

Simon C. Thain,2 Giovanni Murtas,3 James R. Lynn, Robert. B. McGrath, and Andrew J. Millar*

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom (S.C.T., G.M., A.J.M.); Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, United Kingdom (J.R.L.); and Laboratory of Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021 (R.B.M.)

The expression of CHALCONE SYNTHASE (CHS) expression is an important control step in the biosynthesis of flavonoids, which are major photoprotectants in plants. CHS transcription is regulated by endogenous programs and in response to environmental signals. Luciferase reporter gene fusions showed that the CHS promoter is controlled by the circadian clock both in roots and in aerial organs of transgenic Arabidopsis plants. The period of rhythmic CHS expression differs from the previously described rhythm of chlorophyll a/b-binding protein (CAB) gene expression, indicating that CHS is controlled by a distinct circadian clock. The difference in period is maintained in the wild-type Arabidopsis accessions tested and in the de-etiolated 1 and timing of CAB expression 1 mutants. These clock-affecting mutations alter the rhythms of both CAB and CHS markers, indicating that a similar (if not identical) circadian clock mechanism controls these rhythms. The distinct tissue distribution of CAB and CHS expression suggests that the properties of the circadian clock differ among plant tissues. Several animal organs also exhibit heterogeneous circadian properties in culture but are believed to be synchronized in vivo. The fact that differing periods are manifest in intact plants supports our proposal that spatially separated copies of the plant circadian clock are at most weakly coupled, if not functionally independent. This autonomy has apparently permitted tissue-specific specialization of circadian timing.

1 This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (graduate studentship to S.C.T. and grant no. BI11209 to A.J.M.). The Warwick imaging facility is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Royal Society, and the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (grants to A.J.M.).

2 Present address: Division of Environmental and Applied Biology, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, UK.

3 Present address: Biogemma, Napoli, Italy.

* Corresponding author; e-mail Andrew.Millar{at}; fax 44-24-7652-3701.

© 2002 American Society of Plant Physiologists

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