Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 171 results

Reduction Midpoint Potential of a Paradigm Light-Oxygen-Voltage Receptor and its Modulation by Methionine Residues.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 3 Mar 2024 DOI: 10.1101/2024.02.29.582800 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-dependent adaptations of organismal physiology, development, and behavior abound in nature and depend on sensory photoreceptors. As one class, light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptors harness flavin-nucleotide chromophores to sense blue light. Photon absorption drives the LOV receptor to its signaling state, characterized by a metastable thioadduct between the flavin and a conserved cysteine residue. With this cysteine absent, LOV receptors instead undergo photoreduction to the flavin semiquinone which however can still elicit downstream physiological responses. Irrespective of the cysteine presence, the LOV photochemical response thus entails a formal reduction of the flavin. Against this backdrop, we here investigate the reduction midpoint potential E0 in the paradigm LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin 1 (AsLOV2), and how it can be deliberately varied. Replacements of residues at different sites near the flavin by methionine consistently increase E0 from its value of around –280 mV by up to 40 mV. Moreover, methionine introduction invariably impairs photoactivation efficiency and thus renders the resultant AsLOV2 variants less light-sensitive. Although individual methionine substitutions also affect the stability of the signaling state and downstream allosteric responses, no clear-cut correlation with the redox properties emerges. With a reduction midpoint potential near –280 mV, AsLOV2 and, by inference, other LOV receptors may be partially reduced inside cells which directly affects their light responsiveness. The targeted modification of the chromophore environment, as presently demonstrated, may mitigate this effect and enables the design of LOV receptors with stratified redox sensitivities.

'Seeing' the electromagnetic spectrum: spotlight on the cryptochrome photocycle.

blue Cryptochromes Review Background
Front Plant Sci, 1 Mar 2024 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2024.1340304 Link to full text
Abstract: Cryptochromes are widely dispersed flavoprotein photoreceptors that regulate numerous developmental responses to light in plants, as well as to stress and entrainment of the circadian clock in animals and humans. All cryptochromes are closely related to an ancient family of light-absorbing flavoenzymes known as photolyases, which use light as an energy source for DNA repair but themselves have no light sensing role. Here we review the means by which plant cryptochromes acquired a light sensing function. This transition involved subtle changes within the flavin binding pocket which gave rise to a visual photocycle consisting of light-inducible and dark-reversible flavin redox state transitions. In this photocycle, light first triggers flavin reduction from an initial dark-adapted resting state (FADox). The reduced state is the biologically active or 'lit' state, correlating with biological activity. Subsequently, the photoreduced flavin reoxidises back to the dark adapted or 'resting' state. Because the rate of reoxidation determines the lifetime of the signaling state, it significantly modulates biological activity. As a consequence of this redox photocycle Crys respond to both the wavelength and the intensity of light, but are in addition regulated by factors such as temperature, oxygen concentration, and cellular metabolites that alter rates of flavin reoxidation even independently of light. Mechanistically, flavin reduction is correlated with conformational change in the protein, which is thought to mediate biological activity through interaction with biological signaling partners. In addition, a second, entirely independent signaling mechanism arises from the cryptochrome photocycle in the form of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These are synthesized during flavin reoxidation, are known mediators of biotic and abiotic stress responses, and have been linked to Cry biological activity in plants and animals. Additional special properties arising from the cryptochrome photocycle include responsivity to electromagnetic fields and their applications in optogenetics. Finally, innovations in methodology such as the use of Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) diamond centers to follow cryptochrome magnetic field sensitivity in vivo are discussed, as well as the potential for a whole new technology of 'magneto-genetics' for future applications in synthetic biology and medicine.

Crucial Residue for Tuning Thermal Relaxation Kinetics in the Biliverdin-binding Cyanobacteriochrome Photoreceptor Revealed by Site-saturation Mutagenesis.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
J Mol Biol, 19 Jan 2024 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2024.168451 Link to full text
Abstract: Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are cyanobacterial photoreceptors distantly related to the phytochromes sensing red and far-red light reversibly. Only the cGMP phosphodiesterase/Adenylate cyclase/FhlA (GAF) domain is needed for chromophore incorporation and proper photoconversion. The CBCR GAF domains covalently ligate linear tetrapyrrole chromophores and show reversible photoconversion between two light-absorbing states. In most cases, the two light-absorbing states are stable under dark conditions, but in some cases, the photoproduct state undergoes thermal relaxation back to the dark-adapted state during thermal relaxation. In this study, we examined the engineered CBCR GAF domain, AnPixJg2_BV4. AnPixJg2_BV4 covalently binds biliverdin IX-alpha (BV) and shows reversible photoconversion between a far-red-absorbing Pfr dark-adapted state and an orange-absorbing Po photoproduct state. Because the BV is an intrinsic chromophore of mammalian cells and absorbs far-red light penetrating into deep tissues, BV-binding CBCR molecules are useful for the development of optogenetic and bioimaging tools used in mammals. To obtain a better developmental platform molecule, we performed site-saturation random mutagenesis on the Phe319 position. We succeeded in obtaining variant molecules with higher chromophore-binding efficiency and higher molar extinction coefficient. Furthermore, we observed a wide variation in thermal relaxation kinetics, with an 81-fold difference between the slowest and fastest rates. Both molecules with relatively slow and fast thermal relaxation would be advantageous for optogenetic control.

Microsecond Molecular Dynamics Simulations and Markov State Models of Mutation-Induced Allosteric Mechanisms for the Light-Oxygen-Voltage 2 Protein : Revealing Structural Basis of Signal Transmission Induced by Photoactivation of the Light Protein State.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 23 Dec 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.12.22.573121 Link to full text
Abstract: Avena Sativa phototropin 1 Light-oxygen-voltage 2 domain (AsLOV2) is the model protein of Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) superfamily, characterized by conformational changes in response to external environmental stimuli. This conformational change is initiated by the unfolding of the N-terminal helix in the dark state followed by the unfolding of the C-terminal helix. The light state is defined by the unfolded termini and the subsequent modifications in hydrogen bond patterns. In this photoreceptor, β-sheets have been identified as crucial components for mediating allosteric signal transmission between the two termini. In this study, we combined microsecond all-atm molecular dynamics simulations and Markov state modeling of conformational states to quantify molecular basis of mutation-induced allostery in the AsLOV2 protein. Through a combination of computational investigations, we determine that the Hβ and Iβ strands are the most critical structural elements involved in the allosteric mechanism. To elucidate the role of these β-sheets, we introduced 13 distinct mutations (F490L, N492A, L493A, F494L, H495L, L496F, Q497A, R500A, F509L, Q513A, L514A, D515V, and T517V) and conducted comprehensive simulation analysis. The results highlighted the role of two hydrogen bond Asn482-Leu453 and Gln479-Val520 in the observed distinct behaviors of L493A, L496F, Q497A, and D515V mutants. The comprehensive atomistic-level analysis of the conformational landscapes revealed the critical functional role of β-sheet segments in the transmission of the allosteric signal upon the photoactivation of the light state.

Darkness inhibits autokinase activity of bacterial bathy phytochromes.

near-infrared Phytochromes Background
bioRxiv, 15 Dec 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.12.15.571814 Link to full text
Abstract: Bathy phytochromes are a subclass of bacterial biliprotein photoreceptors that carry a biliverdin IXα chromophore. In contrast to prototypical phytochromes that adopt a Pr ground state, the Pfr-form is the thermally stable ground state of bathy phytochromes. Although the photobiology of bacterial phytochromes has been extensively studied since their discovery in the late 1990s, our understanding of the signal transduction process to the connected transmitter domains, which are often histidine kinases, remains insufficient. Initiated by the analysis of the bathy phytochrome PaBphP from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we performed a systematic analysis of five different bathy phytochromes with the aim to derive a general statement on the correlation of photostate and autokinase output. While all proteins adopt different Pr/Pfr-fractions in response to red, blue, and far-red light, only darkness leads to a pure or highly-enriched Pfr-form, directly correlated with the lowest level of autokinase activity. Using this information, we developed a method to quantitatively correlate the autokinase activity of phytochrome samples with well-defined stationary Pr/Pfr-fractions. We demonstrate that the off-state of the phytochromes is the Pfr-form and that different Pr/Pfr-fractions enable the organisms to fine-tune their kinase output in response to a certain light environment. Furthermore, the output response is regulated by the rate of dark reversion, which differs significantly from 5 seconds to 50 minutes half-life. Overall, our study indicates that bathy phytochromes function as sensors of light and darkness, rather than red and far-red light, as originally postulated.

Machine Learning-Assisted Engineering of Light, Oxygen, Voltage Photoreceptor Adduct Lifetime.

blue LOV domains Background
JAmChemSoc, 21 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1021/jacsau.3c00440 Link to full text
Abstract: Naturally occurring and engineered flavin-binding, blue-light-sensing, light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) photoreceptor domains have been used widely to design fluorescent reporters, optogenetic tools, and photosensitizers for the visualization and control of biological processes. In addition, natural LOV photoreceptors with engineered properties were recently employed for optimizing plant biomass production in the framework of a plant-based bioeconomy. Here, the understanding and fine-tuning of LOV photoreceptor (kinetic) properties is instrumental for application. In response to blue-light illumination, LOV domains undergo a cascade of photophysical and photochemical events that yield a transient covalent FMN-cysteine adduct, allowing for signaling. The rate-limiting step of the LOV photocycle is the dark-recovery process, which involves adduct scission and can take between seconds and days. Rational engineering of LOV domains with fine-tuned dark recovery has been challenging due to the lack of a mechanistic model, the long time scale of the process, which hampers atomistic simulations, and a gigantic protein sequence space covering known mutations (combinatorial challenge). To address these issues, we used machine learning (ML) trained on scarce literature data and iteratively generated and implemented experimental data to design LOV variants with faster and slower dark recovery. Over the three prediction–validation cycles, LOV domain variants were successfully predicted, whose adduct-state lifetimes spanned 7 orders of magnitude, yielding optimized tools for synthetic (opto)biology. In summary, our results demonstrate ML as a viable method to guide the design of proteins even with limited experimental data and when no mechanistic model of the underlying physical principles is available.

Capturing the blue-light activated state of the Phot-LOV1 domain from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using time-resolved serial synchrotron crystallography.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 6 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.11.06.565770 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) domains are small photosensory flavoprotein modules that allow converting external stimuli (sunlight) into intracellular signals responsible for various cell behavior (e.g., phototropism and chloroplast relocation). This ability relies on the light-induced formation of a covalent thioether adduct between a flavin chromophore and a reactive cysteine from the protein environment, which triggers a cascade of structural changes that results in the activation of a serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) kinase. Recent developments in time-resolved crystallography may allow the observation of the activation cascade of the LOV domain in real-time, which has been elusive. In this study, we report a robust protocol for the production and stable delivery of microcrystals of the LOV domain of phototropin Phot-1 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrPhotLOV1) with a high-viscosity injector for time-resolved serial synchrotron crystallography (TR-SSX). The detailed process covers all aspects, from sample optimization to the actual data collection process, which may serve as a guide for soluble protein preparation for TR-SSX. In addition, we show that the obtained crystals preserve the photoreactivity using infrared spectroscopy. Furthermore, the results of the TR-SSX experiment provide high-resolution insights into structural alterations of CrPhotLOV1 from Δt = 2.5 ms up to Δt = 95 ms post-photoactivation, including resolving the geometry of the thioether adduct and the C-terminal region implicated in the signal transduction process.

Modulation of warm temperature-sensitive growth using a phytochrome B dark reversion variant, phyB[G515E], in Arabidopsis and rice.

red Phytochromes Background
J Adv Res, 4 Nov 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.jare.2023.11.001 Link to full text
Abstract: Ambient temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation in Arabidopsis seedlings is sensed by the epidermis-localized phytochrome B (phyB) and transduced into auxin biosynthesis via a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, phytochrome-interacting factor 4 (PIF4). Once synthesized, auxin travels down from the cotyledons to the hypocotyl, triggering hypocotyl cell elongation. Thus, the phyB-PIF4 module involved in thermosensing and signal transduction is a potential genetic target for engineering warm temperature-insensitive plants.

Single Amino Acid Mutation Decouples Photochemistry of the BLUF Domain from the Enzymatic Function of OaPAC and Drives the Enzyme to a Switched-on State.

blue BLUF domains Background
J Mol Biol, 10 Oct 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2023.168312 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoactivated adenylate cyclases (PACs) are light-activated enzymes that combine a BLUF (blue-light using flavin) domain and an adenylate cyclase domain that are able to increase the levels of the important second messenger cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) upon blue-light excitation. The light-induced changes in the BLUF domain are transduced to the adenylate cyclase domain via a mechanism that has not yet been established. One critical residue in the photoactivation mechanism of BLUF domains, present in the vicinity of the flavin is the glutamine amino acid close to the N5 of the flavin. The role of this residue has been investigated extensively both experimentally and theoretically. However, its role in the activity of the photoactivated adenylate cyclase, OaPAC has never been addressed. In this work, we applied ultrafast transient visible and infrared spectroscopies to study the photochemistry of the Q48E OaPAC mutant. This mutation altered the primary electron transfer process and switched the enzyme into a permanent 'on' state, able to increase the cAMP levels under dark conditions compared to the cAMP levels of the dark-adapted state of the wild-type OaPAC. Differential scanning calorimetry measurements point to a less compact structure for the Q48E OaPAC mutant. The ensemble of these findings provide insight into the important elements in PACs and how their fine tuning may help in the design of optogenetic devices.

Tuning of B12 photochemistry in the CarH photoreceptor to avoid radical photoproduct

green Cobalamin-binding domains Background
bioRxiv, 21 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.08.11.552799 Link to full text
Abstract: Time-resolved infrared spectroscopy reveals the flow of electron density through coenzyme B12 in the lightactivated, bacterial transcriptional regulator, CarH. The protein stabilises a series of charge transfer states that result in a photoresponse that avoids reactive, and potentially damaging, radical photoproducts.

Light-induced Trpin/Metout switching during BLUF domain activation in ATP-bound photoactivatable adenylate cyclase OaPAC.

blue BLUF domains Background
bioRxiv, 5 Sep 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.09.05.556344 Link to full text
Abstract: The understanding of signal transduction mechanisms in photoreceptor proteins is essential for elucidating how living organisms respond to light as environmental stimuli. In this study, we investigated the ATP binding, photoactivation and signal transduction process in the photoactivatable adenylate cyclase from Oscillatoria acuminata (OaPAC) upon blue light excitation. Structural models with ATP bound in the active site of native OaPAC at cryogenic as well as room temperature are presented. ATP is found in one conformation at cryogenic- and in two conformations at ambient-temperature, and is bound in a non-productive conformation. However, FTIR spectroscopic experiments confirm that the non-productive conformation is the native binding mode in dark state OaPAC and that transition to a productive conformation for ATP turnover only occurs after light activation. A combination of time-resolved crystallography experiments at synchrotron and X-ray Free Electron Lasers sheds light on the initial events around the Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide (FAD) chromophore in the light-sensitive BLUF domain of OaPAC. Initial changes involve the highly conserved amino acids Tyr6, Gln48 and Met92. Crucially, the Gln48 side chain performs a 180° rotation during activation, leading to the stabilization of the FAD chromophore. Cryo-trapping experiments allowed us to investigate a late light-activated state of the reaction and revealed significant conformational changes in the BLUF domain around the FAD chromophore. In particular, a Trpin/Metout transition upon illumination is observed for the first time in the BLUF domain and its role in signal transmission via α-helix 3 and 4 in the linker region between sensor and effector domain is discussed.

Introduction of reversible cysteine ligation ability to the biliverdin-binding cyanobacteriochrome photoreceptor.

red Cyanobacteriochromes Background
FEBS J, 24 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1111/febs.16911 Link to full text
Abstract: Cyanobacteriochrome (CBCR) photoreceptors are distantly related to the canonical red/far-red reversible phytochrome photoreceptors. In the case of the CBCRs, only the GAF domain is required for chromophore incorporation and photoconversion. The GAF domains of CBCR are highly diversified into many lineages to sense various colors of light. These CBCR GAF domains are divided into two types: those possessing only the canonical Cys residue and those with both canonical and second Cys residues. The canonical Cys residue stably ligates to the chromophore in both cases. The second Cys residue mostly shows reversible adduct formation with the chromophore during photoconversion for spectral tuning. In this study, we focused on the CBCR GAF domain AnPixJg2_BV4, which possesses only the canonical Cys residue. AnPixJg2_BV4 covalently ligates to the biliverdin (BV) chromophore and shows far-red/orange reversible photoconversion. Because BV is a mammalian intrinsic chromophore, BV-binding molecules are advantageous for in vivo optogenetic and bioimaging tool development. To obtain a better developmental platform molecule, we performed site-saturation random mutagenesis and serendipitously obtained a unique variant molecule that showed far-red/blue reversible photoconversion, in which the Cys residue was introduced near the chromophore. This introduced Cys residue functioned as the second Cys residue that reversibly ligated with the chromophore. Because the position of the introduced Cys residue is distinct from the known second Cys residues, the variant molecule obtained in this study would expand our knowledge about the spectral tuning mechanism of CBCRs and contribute to tool development.

Network analysis of chromophore binding site in LOV domain.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 11 Dec 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.12.10.519884 Link to full text
Abstract: Photoreceptor proteins are versatile toolbox for developing biosensors for optogenetic applications. These molecular tools get activated upon illumination of blue light, which in turn offers a non-invasive method for gaining high spatiotemporal resolution and precise control of cellular signal transduction. The Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) domain family of proteins is a well-recognized system for constructing optogenetic devices. Translation of these proteins into efficient cellular sensors is possible by tuning their photochemistry lifetime. However, the bottleneck is the need for more understanding of the relationship between the protein environment and photocycle kinetics. Significantly, the effect of the local environment also modulates the electronic structure of chromophore, which perturbs the electrostatic and hydrophobic interaction within the binding site. This work highlights the critical factors hidden in the protein network linking with their experimental photocycle kinetics. It also presents an opportunity to quantitatively examine the alternation in chromophore equilibrium geometry and identify details which have substantial implications in designing synthetic constructs with desirable photocycle efficiency.

Cryo-EM structure of the CRY2 and CIB1 fragment complex provides insights into CIB1-mediated photosignaling.

blue Cryptochromes Background
Plant Commun, 11 Nov 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.xplc.2022.100475 Link to full text
Abstract: Abstract not available.

Maternal stress and vulnerability to depression: coping and maternal care strategies and its consequences on adolescent offspring.

blue LOV domains Background
Transl Psychiatry, 4 Nov 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.20.432101 Link to full text
Abstract: Depressive mothers often find mother-child interaction to be challenging. Maternal stress may further impair mother-child attachment, which may increase the risk of negative developmental consequences. We used rats with different vulnerability to depressive-like behavior (Wistar and Kyoto) to investigate the impact of stress (maternal separation-MS) on maternal behavior and adolescent offspring cognition. MS in Kyoto dams increased pup-contact, resulting in higher oxytocin levels and lower anxiety-like behavior after weaning, while worsening their adolescent offspring cognitive behavior. Whereas MS in Wistar dams elicited higher quality of pup-directed behavior, increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the offspring, which seems to have prevented a negative impact on cognition. Hypothalamic oxytocin seems to affect the salience of the social environment cues (negatively for Kyoto) leading to different coping strategies. Our findings highlight the importance of contextual and individual factors in the understanding of the oxytocin role in modulating maternal behavior and stress regulatory processes.

Triggered functional dynamics of AsLOV2 by time-resolved electron paramagnetic resonance at high magnetic fields.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 19 Oct 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.10.12.511365 Link to full text
Abstract: We present time-resolved Gd-Gd electron paramagnetic resonance (TiGGER) at 240 GHz for tracking inter-residue distances during a protein’s mechanical cycle in the solution state. TiGGER makes use of Gd-sTPATCN as spin labels, whose favorable qualities include a spin-7/2 EPR-active center, short linker, narrow intrinsic linewidth, and virtually no anisotropy at high fields (8.6 T) when compared to nitroxide spin labels. Using TiGGER, we determined that upon light activation, the C-terminus and N-terminus of AsLOV2 separate in less than 1 s and relax back to equilibrium with a time constant of approximately 60 s. TiGGER revealed that the light-activated long-range mechanical motion is slowed in the Q513A variant of AsLOV2 and is correlated to the similarly slowed relaxation of the optically excited chromophore as described in recent literature. TiGGER has the potential to valuably complement existing methods for the study of triggered functional dynamics in proteins.

Point (S-to-G) Mutations in the W(S/G)GE Motif in Red/Green Cyanobacteriochrome GAF Domains Enhance Thermal Reversion Rates.

violet Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Biochemistry, 27 Jun 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.2c00060 Link to full text
Abstract: Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are photoreceptors consisting of single or tandem GAF (cGMP-phosphodiesterase/adenylate cyclase/FhlA) domains that bind bilin chromophores. Canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains are a well-characterized subgroup of the expanded red/green CBCR GAF domain family that binds phycocyanobilin (PCB) and converts between a thermally stable red-absorbing Pr state and a green-absorbing Pg state. The rate of thermal reversion from Pg to Pr varies widely among canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains, with half-lives ranging from days to seconds. Since the thermal reversion rate is an important parameter for the application of CBCR GAF domains as optogenetic tools, the molecular factors controlling the thermal reversion rate are of particular interest. Here, we report that point mutations in a well-conserved W(S/G)GE motif alter reversion rates in canonical red/green CBCR GAF domains in a predictable manner. Specifically, S-to-G mutations enhance thermal reversion rates, while the reverse, G-to-S mutations slow thermal reversion. Despite the distance (>10 Å) of the mutation site from the chromophore, molecular dynamics simulations and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analyses suggest that the presence of a glycine residue allows the formation of a water bridge that alters the conformational dynamics of chromophore-interacting residues, leading to enhanced Pg to Pr thermal reversion.

Signal transduction in light-oxygen-voltage receptors lacking the active-site glutamine.

blue LOV domains Background
Nat Commun, 12 May 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30252-4 Link to full text
Abstract: In nature as in biotechnology, light-oxygen-voltage photoreceptors perceive blue light to elicit spatiotemporally defined cellular responses. Photon absorption drives thioadduct formation between a conserved cysteine and the flavin chromophore. An equally conserved, proximal glutamine processes the resultant flavin protonation into downstream hydrogen-bond rearrangements. Here, we report that this glutamine, long deemed essential, is generally dispensable. In its absence, several light-oxygen-voltage receptors invariably retained productive, if often attenuated, signaling responses. Structures of a light-oxygen-voltage paradigm at around 1 Å resolution revealed highly similar light-induced conformational changes, irrespective of whether the glutamine is present. Naturally occurring, glutamine-deficient light-oxygen-voltage receptors likely serve as bona fide photoreceptors, as we showcase for a diguanylate cyclase. We propose that without the glutamine, water molecules transiently approach the chromophore and thus propagate flavin protonation downstream. Signaling without glutamine appears intrinsic to light-oxygen-voltage receptors, which pertains to biotechnological applications and suggests evolutionary descendance from redox-active flavoproteins.

Plant phytochrome B is an asymmetric dimer with unique signalling potential.

red Phytochromes Background
Nature, 30 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04529-z Link to full text
Abstract: Many aspects of plant photoperception are mediated by the phytochrome (Phy) family of bilin-containing photoreceptors that reversibly interconvert between inactive Pr and active Pfr conformers1,2. Despite extensive biochemical studies, full understanding of plant Phy signalling has remained unclear due to the absence of relevant 3D models. Here we report a cryo-electron microscopy structure of Arabidopsis PhyB in the Pr state that reveals a topologically complex dimeric organization that is substantially distinct from its prokaryotic relatives. Instead of an anticipated parallel architecture, the C-terminal histidine-kinase-related domains (HKRDs) associate head-to-head, whereas the N-terminal photosensory regions associate head-to-tail to form a parallelogram-shaped platform with near two-fold symmetry. The platform is internally linked by the second of two internal Per/Arnt/Sim domains that binds to the photosensory module of the opposing protomer and a preceding 'modulator' loop that assembles tightly with the photosensory module of its own protomer. Both connections accelerate the thermal reversion of Pfr back to Pr, consistent with an inverse relationship between dimer assembly and Pfr stability. Lopsided contacts between the HKRDs and the platform create profound asymmetry to PhyB that might imbue distinct signalling potentials to the protomers. We propose that this unique structural dynamism creates an extensive photostate-sensitive surface for conformation-dependent interactions between plant Phy photoreceptors and their signalling partners.

Selective Photoinduced Dimerization and Slow Recovery of a BLUF Domain of EB1.

blue BLUF domains Background
J Phys Chem B, 28 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.1c10100 Link to full text
Abstract: The EAL-BLUF fragment from Magnetococcus marinus BldP1 (EB1) light-dependently hydrolyzes c-di-GMP. Herein, the photoreaction of the BLUF domain of EB1 (eBLUF) is studied. It is found for the first time that a monomeric BLUF domain forms a dimer upon illumination and its dark recovery is very slow. The dimer of light- and dark-state protomers (LD-dimer) is much more stable than that of two light-state protomers (LL-dimer), and the dark recovery of the LD-dimer is approximately 20 times slower than that of the LL-dimer, which is suitable for optogenetic tools. The secondary structure of the L-monomer is different from those of the D-monomer and the LD-dimer. The transient grating measurements reveal that this conformational change occurs simultaneously with dimerization. Although the W91A mutant exhibits a spectral red shift, it forms a heterodimer with the L-monomer of wild-type eBLUF with similar stability to the LD-dimer. This suggests that the conformation of the dimerization site of W91A is similar to that of the dark state (dark-mimic mutant); that is, the light-induced structural changes in the chromophore cavity are not transferred to the other part of the protein. The selective photoinduced dimerization of eBLUF is potentially useful to control interprotein interactions between two different effector domains bound to these proteins.

Photophysics of the Blue Light Using Flavin Domain.

blue BLUF domains Background
Acc Chem Res, 12 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.1c00659 Link to full text
Abstract: ConspectusLight activated proteins are at the heart of photobiology and optogenetics, so there is wide interest in understanding the mechanisms coupling optical excitation to protein function. In addition, such light activated proteins provide unique insights into the real-time dynamics of protein function. Using pump-probe spectroscopy, the function of a photoactive protein can be initiated by a sub-100 fs pulse of light, allowing subsequent protein dynamics to be probed from femtoseconds to milliseconds and beyond. Among the most interesting photoactive proteins are the blue light using flavin (BLUF) domain proteins, which regulate the response to light of a wide range of bacterial and some euglenoid processes. The photosensing mechanism of BLUF domains has long been a subject of debate. In contrast to other photoactive proteins, the electronic and nuclear structure of the chromophore (flavin) is the same in dark- and light-adapted states. Thus, the driving force for photoactivity is unclear.To address this question requires real-time observation of both chromophore excited state processes and their effect on the structure and dynamics of the surrounding protein matrix. In this Account we describe how time-resolved infrared (IR) experiments, coupled with chemical biology, provide important new insights into the signaling mechanism of BLUF domains. IR measurements are sensitive to changes in both chromophore electronic structure and protein hydrogen bonding interactions. These contributions are resolved by isotope labeling of the chromophore and protein separately. Further, a degree of control over BLUF photochemistry is achieved through mutagenesis, while unnatural amino acid substitution allows us to both fine-tune the photochemistry and time resolve protein dynamics with spatial resolution.Ultrafast studies of BLUF domains reveal non-single-exponential relaxation of the flavin excited state. That relaxation leads within one nanosecond to the original flavin ground state bound in a modified hydrogen-bonding network, as seen in transient and steady-state IR spectroscopy. The change in H-bond configuration arises from formation of an unusual enol (imine) form of a critical glutamine residue. The dynamics observed, complemented by quantum mechanical calculations, suggest a unique sequential electron then double proton transfer reaction as the driving force, followed by rapid reorganization in the binding site and charge recombination. Importantly, studies of several BLUF domains reveal an unexpected diversity in their dynamics, although the underlying structure appears highly conserved. It is suggested that this diversity reflects structural dynamics in the ground state at standard temperature, leading to a distribution of structures and photochemical outcomes. Time resolved IR measurements were extended to the millisecond regime for one BLUF domain, revealing signaling state formation on the microsecond time scale. The mechanism involves reorganization of a β-sheet connected to the chromophore binding pocket via a tryptophan residue. The potential of site-specific labeling amino acids with IR labels as a tool for probing protein structural dynamics was demonstrated.In summary, time-resolved IR studies of BLUF domains (along with related studies at visible wavelengths and quantum and molecular dynamics calculations) have resolved the photoactivation mechanism and real-time dynamics of signaling state formation. These measurements provide new insights into protein structural dynamics and will be important in optimizing the potential of BLUF domains in optobiology.

Slow conformational changes of blue light sensor BLUF proteins in milliseconds.

blue BLUF domains Background
bioRxiv, 16 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.13.472511 Link to full text
Abstract: BLUF (blue light sensor using flavin) proteins consist of flavin-binding BLUF domains and functional domains. Upon blue light excitation, the hydrogen bond network around the flavin chromophore changes, and the absorption spectrum in the visible region exhibits red-shift. Ultimately, the light information received in the BLUF domain is transmitted to the functional region. It has been believed that this red-shift is complete within nanoseconds. Contrary to this commonly accepted scheme, in this study, slow reaction kinetics were discovered in milliseconds (τ1- and τ2-phase) for all the BLUF proteins examined (AppA, OaPAC, BlrP1, YcgF, PapB, SyPixD, and TePixD). Despite extensive reports on BLUF, this is the first clear observation of the BLUF protein absorption change with the duration in the millisecond time region. From the measurements of some domain-deleted mutants of OaPAC and two chimeric mutants of PixD proteins, it was found that the slower dynamics (τ2-phase) are strongly affected by the size and nature of the C-terminal region adjacent to the BLUF domain. Hence, this millisecond reaction is a significant indicator of conformational changes in the C-terminal region, which is essential for the biological functions. On the other hand, the τ1-phase commonly exists in all BLUF proteins, including any mutants. The origin of the slow dynamics was studied using site-specific mutants. These results clearly show the importance of Trp in the BLUF domain. Based on this, a reaction scheme for the BLUF reaction is proposed.

Structure-based design of a photoswitchable affibody scaffold.

blue Fluorescent proteins Background
Protein Sci, 29 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1002/pro.4196 Link to full text
Abstract: Photo-control of affinity reagents offers a general approach for high-resolution spatiotemporal control of diverse molecular processes. In an effort to develop general design principles for a photo-controlled affinity reagent, we took a structure-based approach to the design of a photoswitchable Z-domain, among the simplest of affinity reagent scaffolds. A chimera, designated Z-PYP, of photoactive yellow protein (PYP) and the Z-domain, was designed based on the concept of mutually exclusive folding. NMR analysis indicated that, in the dark, the PYP domain of the chimera was folded, and the Z-domain was unfolded. Blue light caused loss of structure in PYP and a two- to sixfold change in the apparent affinity of Z-PYP for its target as determined using size exclusion chromatography, UV-Vis based assays, and enyzme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A thermodynamic model indicated that mutations to decrease Z-domain folding energy would alter target affinity without loss of switching. This prediction was confirmed experimentally with a double alanine mutant in helix 3 of the Z-domain of the chimera (Z-PYP-AA) showing >30-fold lower dark-state binding and no loss in switching. The effect of decreased dark-state binding affinity was tested in a two-hybrid transcriptional control format and enabled pronounced light/dark differences in yeast growth in vivo. Finally, the design was transferable to the αZ-Taq affibody enabling tunable light-dependent binding both in vitro and in vivo to the Z-Taq target. This system thus provides a framework for the focused development of light switchable affibodies for a range of targets.

A unique photochromic UV-A sensor protein, Rc-PYP, interacting with the PYP-binding protein.

blue Fluorescent proteins Background
Phys Chem Chem Phys, 16 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1039/d1cp02731j Link to full text
Abstract: Photoactive yellow protein (PYP) is one of the typical light sensor proteins. Although its photoreaction has been extensively studied, no downstream partner protein has been identified to date. In this study, the intermolecular interaction dynamics observed between PYP from Rhodobacter capsulatus (Rc-PYP) and a possible downstream protein, PYP-binding protein (PBP), were investigated. It was found that UV light induced a long-lived product (pUV*), which interacts with PBP to form a stable hetero-hexamer (Complex-2). The reaction scheme for this interaction was revealed using transient absorption and transient grating methods. Time-resolved diffusion detection showed that a hetero-trimer (Complex-1) is formed transiently, which produced Complex-2 via a second-order reaction. Any other intermediates, including those from pBL, do not interact with PBP. The reaction scheme and kinetics are determined. Interestingly, long-lived Complex-2 dissociates upon excitation with blue light. These results demonstrate that Rc-PYP is a photochromic and new type of UV sensor to sense the relative intensities of UV-A and blue light.

Role of the CarH photoreceptor protein environment in the modulation of cobalamin photochemistry.

green Cobalamin-binding domains Background
Biophys J, 24 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.07.020 Link to full text
Abstract: The photochemistry of cobalamins has recently been found to have biological importance, with the discovery of bacterial photoreceptor proteins, such as CarH and AerR. CarH and AerR, are involved in the light regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis and bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis, respectively, in bacteria. Experimental transient absorption spectroscopic studies have indicated unusual photochemical behavior of 5'-deoxy-5'-adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl) in CarH, with excited-state charge separation between cobalt and adenosyl and possible heterolytic cleavage of the Co-adenosyl bond, as opposed to the homolytic cleavage observed in aqueous solution and in many AdoCbl-based enzymes. We employ molecular dynamics and hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical calculations to obtain a microscopic understanding of the modulation of the excited electronic states of AdoCbl by the CarH protein environment, in contrast to aqueous solution and AdoCbl-based enzymes. Our results indicate a progressive stabilization of the electronic states involving charge transfer (CT) from cobalt/corrin to adenine on changing the environment from gas phase to water to solvated CarH. The solvent exposure of the adenosyl ligand in CarH, the π-stacking interaction between a tryptophan and the adenine moiety, and the hydrogen-bonding interaction between a glutamate and the lower axial ligand of cobalt are found to contribute to the stabilization of the states involving CT to adenine. The combination of these three factors, the latter two of which can be experimentally tested via mutagenesis studies, is absent in an aqueous solvent environment and in AdoCbl-based enzymes. The favored CT from metal and/or corrin to adenine in CarH may promote heterolytic cleavage of the cobalt-adenosyl bond proposed by experimental studies. Overall, this work provides novel, to our knowledge, physical insights into the mechanism of CarH function and directions for future experimental investigations. The fundamental understanding of the mechanism of CarH functioning will serve the development of optogenetic tools based on the new class of B12-dependent photoreceptors.
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