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Lee, CM and Thomashow, MF (2012) Photoperiodic regulation of the C-repeat binding factor (CBF) cold acclimation pathway and freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109:15054-9


The CBF (C-repeat binding factor) pathway has a major role in plant cold acclimation, the process whereby certain plants increase in freezing tolerance in response to low nonfreezing temperatures. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the pathway is characterized by rapid cold induction of CBF1, CBF2, and CBF3, which encode transcriptional activators, followed by induction of CBF-targeted genes that impart freezing tolerance. At warm temperatures, CBF transcript levels are low, but oscillate due to circadian regulation with peak expression occurring at 8 h after dawn (zeitgeber time 8; ZT8). Here, we establish that the CBF pathway is also regulated by photoperiod at warm temperatures. At ZT8, CBF transcript levels in short-day (SD; 8-h photoperiod) plants were three- to fivefold higher than in long-day plants (LD; 16-h photoperiod). Moreover, the freezing tolerance of SD plants was greater than that of LD plants. Genetic analysis indicated that phytochrome B (PHYB) and two phytochrome-interacting factors, PIF4 and PIF7, act to down-regulate the CBF pathway and freezing tolerance under LD conditions. Down-regulation of the CBF pathway in LD plants correlated with higher PIF4 and PIF7 transcript levels and greater stability of the PIF4 and PIF7 proteins under LD conditions. Our results indicate that during the warm LD growing season, the CBF pathway is actively repressed by PHYB, PIF4, and PIF7, thus mitigating allocation of energy and nutrient resources toward unneeded frost protection. This repression is relieved by shortening day length resulting in up-regulation of the CBF pathway and increased freezing tolerance in preparation for coming cold temperatures.


PubMed PMC3443188 Online version:10.1073/pnas.1211295109