Factors that control the chemistry of the LOV domain photocycle.
Abstract: Algae, plants, bacteria and fungi contain Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) domains that function as blue light sensors to control cellular responses to light. All LOV domains contain a bound flavin chromophore that is reduced upon photon absorption and forms a reversible, metastable covalent bond with a nearby cysteine residue. In Avena sativa LOV2 (AsLOV2), the photocycle is accompanied by an allosteric conformational change that activates the attached phototropin kinase in the full-length protein. Both the conformational change and formation of the cysteinyl-flavin adduct are stabilized by the reduction of the N5 atom in the flavin's isoalloxazine ring. In this study, we perform a mutational analysis to investigate the requirements for LOV2 to photocycle. We mutated all the residues that interact with the chromophore isoalloxazine ring to inert functional groups but none could fully inhibit the photocycle except those to the active-site cysteine. However, electronegative side chains in the vicinity of the chromophore accelerate the N5 deprotonation and the return to the dark state. Mutations to the N414 and Q513 residues identify a potential water gate and H₂O coordination sites. These residues affect the electronic nature of the chromophore and photocycle time by helping catalyze the N5 reduction leading to the completion of the photocycle. In addition, we demonstrate that dehydration leads to drastically slower photocycle times. Finally, to investigate the requirements of an active-site cysteine for photocycling, we moved the nearby cysteine to alternative locations and found that some variants can still photocycle. We propose a new model of the LOV domain photocycle that involves all of these components.