Domesticated Mobile Elements Modulate Light Responses

Science's STKE  27 Nov 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 414, pp. tw433
DOI: 10.1126/stke.4142007tw433

Plants constantly gauge their environments and adjust their growth and development in order to survive. Plants can "see" their surroundings using a battery of photoreceptors to determine the color, intensity, direction, and duration of light around them. Phytochrome A (phyA) mediates various far-red light-induced responses through a cascade of signaling events. Lin et al. report that two proteins co-opted from ancestral Mutator-like transposable element(s) act as transcription factors essential for phyA-controlled gene expression. These results provide insight into the mechanisms and evolutionary history of phytochrome signaling in higher plants and lend support for a role of mobile elements as driving forces for host evolution.

R. Lin, L. Ding, C. Casola, D. R. Ripoll, C. Feschotte, H. Wang, Transposase-derived transcription factors regulate light signaling in Arabidopsis. Science 318, 1302-1305 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]