Circadian Control of cab Gene Transcription and mRNA Accumulation in Arabidopsis

A. J. Millar, S. A. Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An intriguing property of many organisms is their ability to exhibit rhythmic cellular events that continue independently of environmental stimuli. These rhythmic processes are generated by an endogenous mechanism known as the biological clock. We wished to determine whether Arabidopsis thaliana will serve as a model plant system for a molecular genetic dissection of the circadian clock. To this end, we investigated the expression of Arabidopsis chlorophyll a/b-binding protein (cab) genes throughout the circadian cycle. Steady-state mRNA levels of the cab2 and cab3 genes showed a dramatic circadian cycling in plants shifted from light/dark cycles to constant darkness, whereas the cab1 mRNA level exhibited little or no cycling under the same conditions. Analysis of cab promoter fusions in transgenic tobacco revealed that both the cab1 and cab2 5[prime] upstream regions confer circadian-regulated expression on a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (cat) reporter gene. In vitro nuclear run-on transcription assays also indicated that the transcription of the cab1 and cab2 genes is circadian regulated in Arabidopsis. Taken together, these data suggest that a post-transcriptional mechanism influences cab1 mRNA levels in Arabidopsis. The identification of circadian-regulated cis-acting elements in the cab1 and cab2 upstream regions will provide powerful tools for both molecular and genetic analysis of the higher plant circadian clock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-550
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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