Calcium-dependent protein kinases responsible for the phosphorylation of a bZIP transcription factor FD crucial for the florigen complex formation.

Appropriate timing of flowering is critical for reproductive success and necessarily involves complex genetic regulatory networks. A mobile floral signal, called florigen, is a key molecule in this process, and flowering locus T (FT) protein is its major component in Arabidopsis. FT is produced in leaves, but promotes the floral transition in the shoot apex, where it forms a complex with a basic region/leucine-zipper (bZIP) transcription factor, FD. Formation of the florigen complex depends on the supposed phosphorylation of FD; hitherto, however, the responsible protein kinase(s) have not been identified. In this study, we prepared protein extracts from shoot apices of plants around the floral transition, and detected a protein kinase activity that phosphorylates a threonine residue at position 282 of FD (FD T282), which is a crucial residue for the complex formation with FT via 14-3-3. The kinase activity was calcium-dependent. Subsequent biochemical, cellular, and genetic analyses showed that three calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) efficiently phosphorylate FD T282. Two of them (CPK6 and CPK33) are expressed in shoot apical meristem and directly interact with FD, suggesting they have redundant functions. The loss of function of one CDPK (CPK33) resulted in a weak but significant late-flowering phenotype.
Sci Rep Feb. 11, 2015; 5(0);8341 [PUBMED:25661797]
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