We have isolated and sequenced a cDNA clone encoding the apoprotein of a potato phytochrome. Based on the deduced amino acid sequence, which shows 78% amino acid identity to the Arabidopsis phyA and 50% identity to the Arabidopsis phyB open reading frame, we have classified this cDNA clone as potato phyA phytochrome. The amino acid immediately preceding cysteine 323, which is the homologue of oat cystein 321, to which the chromophore has been shown to be attached, is a tyrosine residue. This contrasts with six other type A phytochrome sequences from both monocots and dicots that encode serine in this position. As already observed in three other cDNAs isolated from dicot species, the potato phyA clone encodes a short open reading frame (13 amino acids) preceding the phyA open reading frame (1123 amino acids), supporting the idea that this type of leader sequence might be involved in the regulated expression of the phytochrome apoprotein. Southern blot analysis revealed a single phyA gene as well as other related phytochrome sequences in the potato genome. phyA mRNA levels varied in different organs and were modulated by white light; in seedlings and sprouts, highest levels of mRNA were detected in the etiolated stage. Upon illumination with white light, mRNA levels decreased to the amount found in leaves of re-etiolated plants. Lowest expression was observed in leaves of plants grown in the light, in tubers irrespective of light treatment, and in roots of plants grown in the dark. In roots of plants grown in the light, elevated levels of phyA mRNA were detected. Using a monoclonal antibody generated against pea phytochrome as an immunochemical probe, the protein was only detectable in protein extracts from etiolated seedlings and sprouts.
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