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Abstract

Cryptochromes are blue light receptors that mediate various light-induced responses in plants and animals. They share sequence similarity to photolyases, flavoproteins that catalyze the repair of UV light-damaged DNA, but do not have photolyase activity. Arabidopsis cryptochromes work together with the red/far-red light receptor phytochromes to regulate various light responses, including the regulation of cell elongation and photoperiodic flowering, and are also found to act together with the blue light receptor phototropins to mediate blue light regulation of stomatal opening. The signaling mechanism of Arabidopsis cryptochromes is mediated through negative regulation of COP1 by direct CRY–COP1 interaction through CRY C-terminal domain. Arabidopsis CRY dimerized through its N-terminal domain and dimerization of CRY is required for light activation of the photoreceptor activity. Recently, significant progresses have been made in our understanding of cryptochrome functions in other dicots such as pea and tomato and lower plants including moss and fern. This review will focus on recent advances in functional and mechanism characterization of cryptochromes in plants. It is not intended to cover every aspect of the field; readers are referred to other review articles for historical perspectives and a more comprehensive understanding of this photoreceptor (1–8).