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 149 results

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.

Comparative analysis of two paradigm bacteriophytochromes reveals opposite functionalities in two-component signaling.

red Phytochromes Background
Nat Commun, 20 Jul 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24676-7 Link to full text
Abstract: Bacterial phytochrome photoreceptors usually belong to two-component signaling systems which transmit environmental stimuli to a response regulator through a histidine kinase domain. Phytochromes switch between red light-absorbing and far-red light-absorbing states. Despite exhibiting extensive structural responses during this transition, the model bacteriophytochrome from Deinococcus radiodurans (DrBphP) lacks detectable kinase activity. Here, we resolve this long-standing conundrum by comparatively analyzing the interactions and output activities of DrBphP and a bacteriophytochrome from Agrobacterium fabrum (Agp1). Whereas Agp1 acts as a conventional histidine kinase, we identify DrBphP as a light-sensitive phosphatase. While Agp1 binds its cognate response regulator only transiently, DrBphP does so strongly, which is rationalized at the structural level. Our data pinpoint two key residues affecting the balance between kinase and phosphatase activities, which immediately bears on photoreception and two-component signaling. The opposing output activities in two highly similar bacteriophytochromes suggest the use of light-controllable histidine kinases and phosphatases for optogenetics.

Needles in a haystack: H-bonding in an optogenetic protein observed with isotope labeling and 2D-IR spectroscopy.

green red Cyanobacteriochromes Background
Phys Chem Chem Phys, 26 Apr 2021 DOI: 10.1039/d1cp00996f Link to full text
Abstract: Recently, re-purposing of cyanobacterial photoreceptors as optogentic actuators enabled light-regulated protein expression in different host systems. These new bi-stable optogenetic tools enable interesting new applications, but their light-driven working mechanism remains largely elusive on a molecular level. Here, we study the optogenetic cyanobacteriochrome Am1-c0023g2 with isotope labeling and two dimensional infrared (2D-IR) spectroscopy. Isotope labeling allows us to isolate two site-specific carbonyl marker modes from the overwhelming mid-IR signal of the peptide backbone vibrations. Unlike conventional difference-FTIR spectroscopy, 2D-IR is sensitive to homogeneous and inhomogeneous broadening mechanisms of these two vibrational probes in the different photostates of the protein. We analyse the 2D-IR line shapes in the context of available structural models and find that they reflect the hydrogen-bonding environment of these two marker groups.

Real-time observation of tetrapyrrole binding to an engineered bacterial phytochrome.

red Phytochromes Background
Commun Chem, 4 Jan 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s42004-020-00437-3 Link to full text
Abstract: Near-infrared fluorescent proteins (NIR FPs) engineered from bacterial phytochromes are widely used for structural and functional deep-tissue imaging in vivo. To fluoresce, NIR FPs covalently bind a chromophore, such as biliverdin IXa tetrapyrrole. The efficiency of biliverdin binding directly affects the fluorescence properties, rendering understanding of its molecular mechanism of major importance. miRFP proteins constitute a family of bright monomeric NIR FPs that comprise a Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) and cGMP-specific phosphodiesterases - Adenylyl cyclases - FhlA (GAF) domain. Here, we structurally analyze biliverdin binding to miRFPs in real time using time-resolved stimulated Raman spectroscopy and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) calculations. Biliverdin undergoes isomerization, localization to its binding pocket, and pyrrolenine nitrogen protonation in <1 min, followed by hydrogen bond rearrangement in ~2 min. The covalent attachment to a cysteine in the GAF domain was detected in 4.3 min and 19 min in miRFP670 and its C20A mutant, respectively. In miRFP670, a second C-S covalent bond formation to a cysteine in the PAS domain occurred in 14 min, providing a rigid tetrapyrrole structure with high brightness. Our findings provide insights for the rational design of NIR FPs and a novel method to assess cofactor binding to light-sensitive proteins.

Structural insights into the photoactivation of Arabidopsis CRY2.

blue Cryptochromes Background
Nat Plants, 16 Nov 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41477-020-00800-1 Link to full text
Abstract: The blue-light receptor cryptochrome (CRY) in plants undergoes oligomerization to transduce blue-light signals after irradiation, but the corresponding molecular mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we report the cryogenic electron microscopy structure of a blue-light-activated CRY2 tetramer at a resolution of 3.1 Å, which shows how the CRY2 tetramer assembles. Our study provides insights into blue-light-mediated activation of CRY2 and a theoretical basis for developing regulators of CRYs for optogenetic manipulation.

Reverse and Forward Engineering Multicellular Structures with Optogenetics.

blue red Cryptochromes LOV domains Phytochromes Background
Curr Opin Biomed Eng, 14 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.cobme.2020.100250 Link to full text
Abstract: Understanding how cells self-organize into functional higher-order structures is of great interest, both towards deciphering animal development, as well as for our ability to predictably build custom tissues to meet research and therapeutic needs. The proper organization of cells across length-scales results from interconnected and dynamic networks of molecules and cells. Optogenetic probes provide dynamic and tunable control over molecular events within cells, and thus represent a powerful approach to both dissect and control collective cell behaviors. Here we emphasize the breadth of the optogenetic toolkit and discuss how these methods have already been used to reverse-engineer the design rules of developing organisms. We also offer our perspective on the rich potential for optogenetics to power forward-engineering of tissue assembly towards the generation of bespoke tissues with user-defined properties.

Resonance energy transfer sensitises and monitors in situ switching of LOV2-based optogenetic actuators.

blue LOV domains Background
Nat Commun, 9 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18816-8 Link to full text
Abstract: Engineered light-dependent switches provide uniquely powerful opportunities to investigate and control cell regulatory mechanisms. Existing tools offer high spatiotemporal resolution, reversibility and repeatability. Cellular optogenetics applications remain limited with diffusible targets as the response of the actuator is difficult to independently validate. Blue light levels commonly needed for actuation can be cytotoxic, precluding long-term experiments. We describe a simple approach overcoming these obstacles. Resonance energy transfer can be used to constitutively or dynamically modulate actuation sensitivity. This simultaneously offers on-line monitoring of light-dependent switching and precise quantification of activation-relaxation properties in intact living cells. Applying this approach to different LOV2-based switches reveals that flanking sequences can lead to relaxation times up to 11-fold faster than anticipated. In situ-measured parameter values guide the design of target-inhibiting actuation trains with minimal blue-light exposure, and context-based optimisation can increase sensitivity and experimental throughput a further 10-fold without loss of temporal precision.

Steric Interactions at Gln154 in ZEITLUPE Induce Reorganization of the LOV Domain Dimer Interface.

blue LOV domains Background
bioRxiv, 7 Oct 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.05.326595 Link to full text
Abstract: Plants measure light, quality, intensity, and duration to coordinate growth and development with daily and seasonal changes in environmental conditions, however, the molecular details linking photochemistry to signal transduction remain incomplete. Two closely related Light, Oxygen, or Voltage (LOV) domain containing photoreceptor proteins ZEITLUPE (ZTL) and FLAVIN-BINDING, KELCH REPEAT, F-BOX 1 (FKF1) divergently regulate the protein stability of circadian clock and photoperiodic flowering components to mediate daily and seasonal development. Using structural approaches, we identified that mutations at the Gly46 position led to global rearrangements of the ZTL dimer interface. Specifically, introduction of G46S and G46A variants that mimic equivalent residues found in FKF1 induce a 180° rotation about the dimer interface that is coupled to ordering of N- and C-terminal signaling elements. These conformational changes hinge upon rotation of a C-terminal Gln residue analogous to that present in light-state structures of ZTL. The results presented herein, confirm a divergent signaling mechanism within ZTL that deviates from other members of the LOV superfamily and suggests that mechanisms of signal transduction in LOV proteins may be fluid across the LOV protein family.

Open-Closed Structure of Light Responsive Protein LOV2 Regulates its Molecular Interaction with Binding Partner.

blue LOV domains Background
J Phys Chem Lett, 18 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.0c02252 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic approaches have broad applications including regulating cell signalling and gene expression. Photo-responsive protein LOV2 and its binding partner ZDK represent an important protein caging/uncaging optogenetic system. Herein, we combine time-resolved small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) to reveal different structural states of LOV2 and the light-controlled mechanism of interaction between LOV2 and ZDK. In response to blue light within a time frame of ca. 70 s, LOV2 has a significantly higher value of radius of gyration Rg (29.6± 0.3 Å vs 26.4± 0.4 Å) than its dark state, suggesting unwinding of the C-terminal Jα-helix into an open structure. Atomic force microscopy was used to characterise molecular interactions of LOV2 in open and closed states with ZDK at a single molecule level. The closed state of LOV2 enables strong binding with ZDK, characterised by 60-fold lower dissociation rate and ~1.5 times higher activation energy barrier than its open state. In combination, these data support a light-switching mechanism that is modulated by the proximity of multiple binding sites of LOV2 for ZDK.

Unraveling the Mechanism of a LOV Domain Optogenetic Sensor: A Glutamine Lever Induces Unfolding of the Jα Helix.

blue LOV domains Background
ACS Chem Biol, 3 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00543 Link to full text
Abstract: Light-activated protein domains provide a convenient, modular, and genetically encodable sensor for optogenetics and optobiology. Although these domains have now been deployed in numerous systems, the precise mechanism of photoactivation and the accompanying structural dynamics that modulate output domain activity remain to be fully elucidated. In the C-terminal light, oxygen, voltage (LOV) domain of plant phototropins (LOV2), blue light activation leads to formation of an adduct between a conserved Cys residue and the embedded FMN chromophore, rotation of a conserved Gln (Q513), and unfolding of a helix (Jα-helix) which is coupled to the output partner. In the present work, we focus on the allosteric pathways leading to Jα helix unfolding in Avena sativa LOV2 (AsLOV2) using an interdisciplinary approach involving molecular dynamics simulations extending to 7 μs, time-resolved infrared spectroscopy, solution NMR spectroscopy, and in-cell optogenetic experiments. In the dark state, the side chain of N414 is hydrogen bonded to the backbone N-H of Q513. The simulations predict a lever-like motion of Q513 after Cys adduct formation resulting in loss of the interaction between the side chain of N414 and the backbone C=O of Q513, and formation of a transient hydrogen bond between the Q513 and N414 side chains. The central role of N414 in signal transduction was evaluated by site-directed mutagenesis supporting a direct link between Jα helix unfolding dynamics and the cellular function of the Zdk2-AsLOV2 optogenetic construct. Through this multifaceted approach, we show that Q513 and N414 are critical mediators of protein structural dynamics, linking the ultrafast (sub-ps) excitation of the FMN chromophore to the microsecond conformational changes that result in photoreceptor activation and biological function.

New light on the mechanism of phototransduction in phototropin.

blue LOV domains Background
Biochemistry, 13 Aug 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.0c00324 Link to full text
Abstract: Phototropins are photoreceptor proteins, which regulate blue light dependent biological processes for efficient photosynthesis in plants and algae. The proteins consist of a photosensory domain that responds to the ambient light and an output module that triggers cellular responses. The photosensory domain of phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii contains two conserved LOV (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domains with flavin chromophores. Blue light triggers the formation of a covalent cysteine-flavin adduct and upregulates the phototropin kinase activity. Little is known about the structural mechanism which leads to kinase activation and how the two LOV domains contribute to this. Here, we investigate the role of the LOV1 domain from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii phototropin by characterizing the structural changes occurring after blue light illumination with nano- millisecond time-resolved X-ray solution scattering. By structurally fitting the data with atomic models generated by molecular dynamics simulations, we find that the adduct formation induces a rearrangement of the hydrogen bond network from the buried chromophore to the protein surface. Particularly, the change in conformation and associated hydrogen bonding of the conserved glutamine 120 induce a global movement of the β-sheet, ultimately driving a change in electrostatic potential on the protein surface. Based on the change of electrostatics, we propose a structural model of how LOV1 and LOV2 domains interact and regulate the full-length phototropin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This provides a rationale for how LOV photosensor proteins function and contributes to the optimal design of optogenetic tools based on LOV domains.

Excited State Vibrations of Isotopically Labeled FMN Free and Bound to a Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) Protein.

blue LOV domains Background
J Phys Chem B, 10 Aug 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.0c04943 Link to full text
Abstract: Flavoproteins are important blue light sensors in photobiology and play a key role in optogenetics. The characterization of their excited state structure and dynamics is thus an important objective. Here, we present a detailed study of excited state vibrational spectra of flavin mononucleotide (FMN), in solution and bound to the LOV-2 (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domain of Avena sativa phototropin. Vibrational frequencies are determined for the optically excited singlet state and the reactive triplet state, through resonant ultrafast femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS). To assign the observed spectra, vibrational frequencies of the excited states are calculated using density functional theory, and both measurement and theory are applied to four different isotopologues of FMN. Excited state mode assignments are refined in both states, and their sensitivity to deuteration and protein environment are investigated. We show that resonant FSRS provides a useful tool for characterizing photoactive flavoproteins and is able to highlight chromophore localized modes and to record hydrogen/deuterium exchange.

Molecular Mechanism of Light-Induced Conformational Switching of the LOV Domain in Aureochrome-1.

blue LOV domains Background
Biochemistry, 29 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.0c00271 Link to full text
Abstract: Light oxygen voltage-sensing (LOV) domains are widely found in photoreceptor proteins of plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria. Structural studies of LOV domains suggest that Phe and Gln residues located in the proximity of the chromophore undergo conformational changes upon illumination; however, the molecular mechanism associated with activation of the effector domain remains to be elucidated. Photozipper (PZ) protein is an N-terminally truncated aureochrome-1 comprising a LOV domain and a basic leucine zipper domain. Blue light (BL) induces PZ dimerization and subsequently increases its affinity for target DNA. In this study, we prepared PZ mutants with substitutions of F298 and Q317 and performed quantitative analyses in dark and light states. Substitutions of Q317 significantly reduced the light-induced changes in PZ affinity for the target DNA, especially in the case of the high affinities observed in the dark state. Upon illumination, all PZ mutants showed increased affinity for the target sequence, which demonstrated a clear correlation with the dimer fraction of each PZ mutant. These results suggest the existence of a conformational equilibrium and that its shift by a synergistic interaction between the chromophore and protein moiety probably enables BL-regulated switching of aureochrome-1.

Illuminating a Phytochrome Paradigm- a Light-Activated Phosphatase in Two-Component Signaling Uncovered.

red Phytochromes Background
bioRxiv, 27 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.26.173310 Link to full text
Abstract: Bacterial phytochrome photoreceptors usually belong to two-component signaling systems which transmit environmental stimuli to a response regulator through a histidine kinase domain. Phytochromes switch between red light-absorbing and far-red light-absorbing states. Despite exhibiting extensive structural responses during this transition, the model bacteriophytochrome from Deinococcus radiodurans (DrBphP) lacks detectable kinase activity. Here, we resolve this long-standing conundrum by comparatively analyzing the interactions and output activities of DrBphP and a bacteriophytochrome from Agrobacterium fabrum (AgP1). Whereas AgP1 acts as a conventional histidine kinase, we identify DrBphP as a light-sensitive phosphatase. While AgP1 binds its cognate response regulator only transiently, DrBphP does so strongly, which is rationalized at the structural level. Our data pinpoint two key residues affecting the balance between kinase and phosphatase activities, which immediately bears on photoreception and two-component signaling. The opposing output activities in two highly similar bacteriophytochromes inform the use of light-controllable histidine kinases and phosphatases for optogenetics.

The Association Kinetics Encode the Light Dependence of Arabidopsis Phytochrome B Interactions.

red Phytochromes Background
J Mol Biol, 10 Jun 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.06.001 Link to full text
Abstract: Plant phytochromes enable vital adaptations to red and far-red light. At the molecular level, these responses are mediated by light-regulated interactions between phytochromes and partner proteins, foremost the phytochrome-interacting factors (PIF). Although known for decades, quantitative analyses of these interactions have long been sparse. To address this deficit, we here studied by an integrated fluorescence-spectroscopic approach the equilibrium and kinetics of Arabidopsis thaliana phytochrome B (AtPhyB) binding to a tetramerized PIF6 variant. Several readouts consistently showed the stringently light-regulated interaction to be little affected by PIF tetramerization. Analysis of the binding kinetics allowed the determination of bimolecular association and unimolecular dissociation rate constants as a function of light. Unexpectedly, the stronger affinity of AtPhyB under red light relative to far-red light is entirely due to accelerated association rather than decelerated dissociation. The association reaction under red light is highly efficient and only threefold slower than the diffusion limit. The present findings pertain equally to the analysis of signal transduction in plants and to the biotechnological application of phytochromes.

Why is CarH photolytically active in comparison to other B12-dependent enzymes?

green Cobalamin-binding domains Background
J Photochem Photobiol B, Biol, 28 May 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2020.111919 Link to full text
Abstract: The discovery of naturally occurring B12-depedent photoreceptors has allowed for applications of cobalamins (Cbls) in optogenetics and synthetic biology to emerge. However, theoretical investigations of the complex mechanisms of these systems have been lacking. Adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl)-dependent photoreceptor, CarH, is one example and it relies on daylight to perform its catalytic function. Typically, in enzymes employing AdoCbl as their cofactor, the Co-C5' bond activation and cleavage is triggered by substrate binding. The cleavage of the Co-C5' bond is homolytic resulting in radical pair formation. However, in CarH, this bond is instead activated by light. To explore this peculiarity, the ground and first excited state potential energy surfaces (PESs) were constructed using the quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) framework and compared with other AdoCbl-dependent enzymes. QM/MM results indicate that CarH is photolytically active as a result of the AdoCbl dual role, acting as a radical generator and as a substrate. Photo-cleavage of the Co-C5' bond and subsequent H-atom abstraction is possible because of the specific orientation of the H-C4' bond with respect to the Co(II) center. Comparison with other AdoCbl-dependent enzymes indicate that the protein environment in the CarH active center alters the photochemistry of AdoCbl by controlling the stereochemistry of the ribose moiety.

The oligomeric structures of plant cryptochromes.

blue Cryptochromes Background
Nat Struct Mol Biol, 11 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41594-020-0420-x Link to full text
Abstract: Cryptochromes (CRYs) are a group of evolutionarily conserved flavoproteins found in many organisms. In plants, the well-studied CRY photoreceptor, activated by blue light, plays essential roles in plant growth and development. However, the mechanism of activation remains largely unknown. Here, we determined the oligomeric structures of the blue-light-perceiving PHR domain of Zea mays CRY1 and an Arabidopsis CRY2 constitutively active mutant. The structures form dimers and tetramers whose functional importance is examined in vitro and in vivo with Arabidopsis CRY2. Structure-based analysis suggests that blue light may be perceived by CRY to cause conformational changes, whose precise nature remains to be determined, leading to oligomerization that is essential for downstream signaling. This photoactivation mechanism may be widely used by plant CRYs. Our study reveals a molecular mechanism of plant CRY activation and also paves the way for design of CRY as a more efficient optical switch.

Structural insights into BIC-mediated inactivation of Arabidopsis cryptochrome 2.

blue Cryptochromes Background
Nat Struct Mol Biol, 11 May 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41594-020-0410-z Link to full text
Abstract: Cryptochromes (CRYs) are blue-light receptors in plants that harbor FAD as a cofactor and regulate various physiological responses. Photoactivated CRYs undergo oligomerization, which increases the binding affinity to downstream signaling partners. Despite decades of research on the activation of CRYs, little is known about how they are inactivated. Binding of blue-light inhibitors of cryptochromes (BICs) to CRY2 suppresses its photoactivation, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here, we report crystal structures of CRY2N (CRY2 PHR domain) and the BIC2-CRY2N complex with resolutions of 2.7 and 2.5 Å, respectively. In the BIC2-CRY2N complex, BIC2 exhibits an extremely extended structure that sinuously winds around CRY2N. In this way, BIC2 not only restrains the transfer of electrons and protons from CRY2 to FAD during photoreduction but also interacts with the CRY2 oligomer to return it to the monomer form. Uncovering the mechanism of CRY2 inactivation lays a solid foundation for the investigation of cryptochrome protein function.
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