Yuhong Li: The Plant Cell First Author

Yuhong Li, first author of “Arabidopsis EXECUTER1 interacts with WRKY transcription factors to mediate plastid-to-nucleus singlet oxygen signaling”

Current Position: Post-doc

Education: Ph.D. in Developmental Biology

Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Non-scientific Interests: Reading, cooking, listening music

Brief bio: I joined Dr. Rongcheng Lin’s laboratory at IBCAS since 2014 to pursue my Ph.D. My research is mainly focused on the plastid singlet oxygen (1O2) retrograde signal pathway during the transition from heterotrophic-to-autotrophic growth. Chloroplasts produce 1O2 that causes nuclear gene expression through plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signaling to increase plant fitness. Here, I and my colleagues identified GUN4 and GUN5 as the suppressors of phytochrome-interacting factor1 (pif1) pif3. We found that GUN4 and GUN5 interact with EXECUTER1 (EX1) and EX2 in plastids, and that this interaction is alleviated by 1O2 signal. Strikingly, upon the presence of 1O2 signal, EX1 transiently accumulates in the nucleus. EX1 acts as a transcriptional co-activator and interacts with the transcription factor WRKY18 and WRKY40 to promote the expression of 1O2-responsive genes. Our study suggests that EX1 may act as an unexpected plastid-to-nucleus protein and establishes a 1O2–triggered retrograde signaling pathway that allows plants adapt to changing light environments during chloroplast development.