Cryptochromes (from the Greek κρυπτό χρώμα, hidden colour) are a class of blue light-sensitive flavoproteins found in plants and animals. Cryptochromes are involved in the circadian rhythms of plants and animals, and in the sensing of magnetic fields in a number of species. The name Cryptochrome was proposed as a pun combining the cryptic nature of the photoreceptor, and the cryptogamic organisms on which many blue light studies were carried out.
The two genes Cry1 and Cry2 code for the two cryptochrome proteins CRY1 and CRY2. In insects and plants, CRY1 regulates the circadian clock in a light-dependent fashion, whereas in mammals, CRY1 and CRY2 act as light-independent inhibitors of CLOCK-BMAL1 components of the circadian clock. In plants, blue light photoreception can be used to cue developmental signals.
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