In Arabidopsis, ultraviolet (UV)-B-induced photomorphogenesis is initiated by a unique photoreceptor UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8 (UVR8) which utilizes its tryptophan residues as internal chromophore to sense UV-B. As a result of UV-B light perception, the UVR8 homodimer shaped by its arginine residues undergoes a conformational switch of monomerization. Then UVR8 associates with the CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1-SUPPRESSOR OF PHYA (COP1-SPA) core complex(es) that is released from the CULLIN 4-DAMAGED DNA BINDING PROTEIN 1 (CUL4-DDB1) E3 apparatus. This association, in turn, causes COP1 to convert from a repressor to a promoter of photomorphogenesis. It is not fully understood, however, regarding the biological significance of light-absorbing and dimer-stabilizing residues for UVR8 activity in photomorphogenic UV-B signaling. Here, we take advantage of transgenic UVR8 variants to demonstrate that two light-absorbing tryptophans, W233 and W285, and two dimer-stabilizing arginines, R286 and R338, play pivotal roles in UV-B-induced photomorphogenesis. Mutation of each residue results in alterations in UV-B light perception, UVR8 monomerization and UVR8-COP1 association in response to photomorphogenic UV-B. We also identify and functionally characterize two constitutively active UVR8 variants, UVR8W285A and UVR8R338A, whose photobiological activities are enhanced by the repression of CUL4, a negative regulator in this pathway. Based on our molecular and biochemical evidence, we propose that the UVR8-COP1 affinity in plants critically determines the photomorphogenic UV-B signal transduction coupling with UVR8-mediated UV-B light perception.
Various biotic and abiotic factors are known to exert selection pressures on floral traits, but the influence of ultraviolet-B (UV-B) light on the evolution of flower structure remains relatively unexplored. We have examined the effectiveness of flower structure in blocking radiation and the effects of UV-B on pollen viability in 42 species of alpine plants in the Hengduan Mountains, China. Floral forms were categorized as either protecting or exposing pollen grains to UV-B. The floral materials of plants with exposed and protected pollen grains were able to block UV-B at similar levels. Exposure to UV-B radiation in vitro resulted in a significantly greater loss of viability in pollen from plant species with protective floral structures. The pronounced sensitivity of protected pollen to UV-B radiation was associated with the type of flower structure. These findings demonstrate that UV-B plays an important role in the evolution of protective floral forms in alpine plants.
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