Light-induced global structural changes in phytochrome A regulating photomorphogenesis in plants

Masayoshi Nakasako, Tatsuya Iwata, Katsuaki Inoue, Satoru Tokutomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Phytochromes are photoreceptor proteins that monitor the light environment and regulate a variety of photomorphogenic responses to optimize the growth and development of plants. Phytochromes comprise N-terminal photosensory and C-terminal regulatory domains. They are mutually photoconvertible between a red-light-absorbing (Pr) and a far-red-light-absorbing (Pfr) form. Their interconversion by light stimuli initiates downstream signaling cascades. Here we report the molecular structures of pea phytochrome A lacking the N-terminal 52 amino-acid residues in the Pr and Pfr forms studied by small-angle X-ray scattering. A new purification protocol yielded monodispersive sample solutions. The molecular mass and the maximum dimension of Pr determined from scattering data indicated its dimeric association. The molecular structure of Pr predicted by applying the ab initio simulation method to the scattering profile was approximated as a stack of two flat bodies, comprising two lobes assignable to the functional regions. Scattering profiles recorded under red-light irradiation showed small but definite changes from those of Pr. The molecular dimensions and predicted molecular structure of Pfr suggest global structural changes such as movement of the C-terminal domains in the Pr-to-Pfr phototransformation. Red-light-induced structural changes in Pfr were reversible, mostly due to thermal relaxation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-612
Number of pages10
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jan


  • Growth regulation
  • Light monitoring
  • Phytochrome A
  • Plants
  • Small-angle X-ray scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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