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In vivo function of tryptophans in the Arabidopsis UV-B photoreceptor UVR8

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Arabidopsis thaliana UV RESISTANCE LOCUS8 (UVR8) is a photoreceptor specifically for UV-B light that initiates photomorphogenic responses in plants. UV-B exposure causes rapid conversion of UVR8 from dimer to monomer, accumulation in the nucleus, and interaction with CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1 (COP1), which functions with UVR8 in UV-B responses. Studies in yeast and with purified UVR8 implicate several tryptophan amino acids in UV-B photoreception. However, their roles in UV-B responses in plants, and the functional significance of all 14 UVR8 tryptophans, are not known. Here we report the functions of the UVR8 tryptophans in vivo. Three tryptophans in the β-propeller core are important in maintaining structural stability and function of UVR8. However, mutation of three other core tryptophans and four at the dimeric interface has no apparent effect on function in vivo. Mutation of three tryptophans implicated in UV-B photoreception, W233, W285, and W337, impairs photomorphogenic responses to different extents. W285 is essential for UVR8 function in plants, whereas W233 is important but not essential for function, and W337 has a lesser role. Ala mutants of these tryptophans appear monomeric and constitutively bind COP1 in plants, but their responses indicate that monomer formation and COP1 binding are not sufficient for UVR8 function.

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