Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An integrated genetic, genomic and systems approach defines gene networks regulated by the interaction of light and carbon signaling pathways in Arabidopsis

Karen E Thum1, Michael J Shin12, Rodrigo A Gutiérrez13, Indrani Mukherjee1, Manpreet S Katari1, Damion Nero1, Dennis Shasha4 and Gloria M Coruzzi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY, 10003, USA

2 Department of Biology, Messiah College, Grantham, PA, 17027, USA

3 Departamento de Genética Molecular y Microbiología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Alameda 340. 8331010. Santiago, Chile

4 Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, NY, 10003, USA

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BMC Systems Biology 2008, 2:31  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-2-31

Published: 4 April 2008



Light and carbon are two important interacting signals affecting plant growth and development. The mechanism(s) and/or genes involved in sensing and/or mediating the signaling pathways involving these interactions are unknown. This study integrates genetic, genomic and systems approaches to identify a genetically perturbed gene network that is regulated by the interaction of carbon and light signaling in Arabidopsis.


arbon and
nsensitive (cli) mutants were isolated. Microarray data from cli186 is analyzed to identify the genes, biological processes and gene networks affected by the integration of light and carbon pathways. Analysis of this data reveals 966 genes regulated by light and/or carbon signaling in wild-type. In cli186, 216 of these light/carbon regulated genes are misregulated in response to light and/or carbon treatments where 78% are misregulated in response to light and carbon interactions. Analysis of the gene lists show that genes in the biological processes "energy" and "metabolism" are over-represented among the 966 genes regulated by carbon and/or light in wild-type, and the 216 misregulated genes in cli186. To understand connections among carbon and/or light regulated genes in wild-type and the misregulated genes in cli186, the microarray data is interpreted in the context of metabolic and regulatory networks. The network created from the 966 light/carbon regulated genes in wild-type, reveals that cli186 is affected in the light and/or carbon regulation of a network of 60 connected genes, including six transcription factors. One transcription factor, HAT22 appears to be a regulatory "hub" in the cli186 network as it shows regulatory connections linking a metabolic network of genes involved in "amino acid metabolism", "C-compound/carbohydrate metabolism" and "glycolysis/gluconeogenesis".


The global misregulation of gene networks controlled by light and carbon signaling in cli186 indicates that it represents one of the first Arabidopsis mutants isolated that is specifically disrupted in the integration of both carbon and light signals to control the regulation of metabolic, developmental and regulatory genes. The network analysis of misregulated genes suggests that CLI186 acts to integrate light and carbon signaling interactions and is a master regulator connecting the regulation of a host of downstream metabolic and regulatory processes.