J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2022, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (5): 1044-1058.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13250

• Molecular Physiology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A molecular link between autophagy and circadian rhythm in plants

Weijun Chen1†, Zhaotun Hu1,2†, MengTing Yu2, Sirui Zhu1, Junjie Xing3, Limei Song1, Wenxuan Pu4* and Feng Yu1,3*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and Chemometrics, College of Biology, and Hunan Province Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics and Developmental Regulation, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, China
    2 Key Laboratory of Research and Utilization of Ethnomedicinal Plant Resources of Hunan Province, School of Biological and Food Engineering, Huaihua College, Huaihua 418008, China
    3 State Key Laboratory of Hybrid Rice, Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, Changsha 410125, China
    4 Technology Center, China Tobacco Hunan Industrial Co., Ltd., Changsha 410007, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondences: Wenxuan Pu (puwx0605@hngytobacco.com); Feng Yu (feng_yu@hnu.edu.cn, Dr. Yu is fully responsible for the distribution of the materials associated with this article)
  • Received:2022-01-05 Accepted:2022-03-16 Online:2022-04-29 Published:2022-05-01


Extremely high or low autophagy levels disrupt plant survival under nutrient starvation. Recently, autophagy has been reported to display rhythms in animals. However, the mechanism of circadian regulation of autophagy is still unclear. Here, we observed that autophagy has a robust rhythm and that various autophagy-related genes (ATGs) are rhythmically expressed in Arabidopsis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and dual-luciferase (LUC) analyses showed that the core oscillator gene TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1) directly binds to the promoters of ATG (ATG1a, ATG2, and ATG8d) and negatively regulates autophagy activities under nutritional stress. Furthermore, autophagy defects might affect endogenous rhythms by reducing the rhythm amplitude of TOC1 and shortening the rhythm period of CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1). Autophagy is essential for the circadian clock pattern in seedling development and plant sensitivity to nutritional deficiencies. Taken together, our studies reveal a plant strategy in which the TOC1-ATG axis involved in autophagy-rhythm crosstalk to fine-tune the intensity of autophagy.

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