The REVEILLE clock genes inhibit growth of juvenile and adult plants by control of cell size

Gray, Shalit-Kaneh, Chu, Hsu, and Harmer 2017, Plant Physiology


The circadian clock is a complex regulatory network that enhances plant growth and fitness in a constantly changing environment. In Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the clock is composed of numerous regulatory feedback loops in which REVEILLE8 (RVE8) and its homologs RVE4 and RVE6 act in a partially redundant manner to promote clock pace. Here, we report that the remaining members of the RVE8 clade, RVE3 and RVE5, play only minor roles in the regulation of clock function. However, we find that RVE8 clade proteins have unexpected functions in the modulation of light input to the clock and the control of plant growth at multiple stages of development. In seedlings, these proteins repress hypocotyl elongation in a daylength- and sucrose-dependent manner. Strikingly, adult rve4 6 8 and rve3 4 5 6 8 mutants are much larger than wild-type plants, with both increased leaf area and biomass. This size phenotype is associated with a faster growth rate and larger cell size and is not simply due to a delay in the transition to flowering. Gene expression and epistasis analysis reveal that the growth phenotypes of rve mutants are due to the misregulation of PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR4 (PIF4) and PIF5 expression. Our results show that even small changes in PIF gene expression caused by the perturbation of clock gene function can have large effects on the growth of adult plants.