Showing 1 - 9 of 9 results
Time-resolved crystallography and protein design: signalling photoreceptors and optogenetics.
Time-resolved X-ray crystallography and solution scattering have been successfully conducted on proteins on time-scales down to around 100 ps, set by the duration of the hard X-ray pulses emitted by synchrotron sources. The advent of hard X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs), which emit extremely intense, very brief, coherent X-ray pulses, opens the exciting possibility of time-resolved experiments with femtosecond time resolution on macromolecular structure, in both single crystals and solution. The X-ray pulses emitted by an FEL differ greatly in many properties from those emitted by a synchrotron, in ways that at first glance make time-resolved measurements of X-ray scattering with the required accuracy extremely challenging. This opens up several questions which I consider in this brief overview. Are there likely to be chemically and biologically interesting structural changes to be revealed on the femtosecond time-scale? How shall time-resolved experiments best be designed and conducted to exploit the properties of FELs and overcome challenges that they pose? To date, fast time-resolved reactions have been initiated by a brief laser pulse, which obviously requires that the system under study be light-sensitive. Although this is true for proteins of the visual system and for signalling photoreceptors, it is not naturally the case for most interesting biological systems. To generate more biological targets for time-resolved study, can this limitation be overcome by optogenetic, chemical or other means?
Crystal structures of Aureochrome1 LOV suggest new design strategies for optogenetics.
Aureochrome1, a signaling photoreceptor from a eukaryotic photosynthetic stramenopile, confers blue-light-regulated DNA binding on the organism. Its topology, in which a C-terminal LOV sensor domain is linked to an N-terminal DNA-binding bZIP effector domain, contrasts with the reverse sensor-effector topology in most other known LOV-photoreceptors. How, then, is signal transmitted in Aureochrome1? The dark- and light-state crystal structures of Aureochrome1 LOV domain (AuLOV) show that its helical N- and C-terminal flanking regions are packed against the external surface of the core β sheet, opposite to the FMN chromophore on the internal surface. Light-induced conformational changes occur in the quaternary structure of the AuLOV dimer and in Phe298 of the Hβ strand in the core. The properties of AuLOV extend the applicability of LOV domains as versatile design modules that permit fusion to effector domains via either the N- or C-termini to confer blue-light sensitivity.
From dusk till dawn: one-plasmid systems for light-regulated gene expression.
Signaling photoreceptors mediate diverse organismal adaptations in response to light. As light-gated protein switches, signaling photoreceptors provide the basis for optogenetics, a term that refers to the control of organismal physiology and behavior by light. We establish as novel optogenetic tools the plasmids pDusk and pDawn, which employ blue-light photoreceptors to confer light-repressed or light-induced gene expression in Escherichia coli with up to 460-fold induction upon illumination. Key features of these systems are low background activity, high dynamic range, spatial control on the 20-μm scale, independence from exogenous factors, and ease of use. In optogenetic experiments, pDusk and pDawn can be used to specifically perturb individual nodes of signaling networks and interrogate their role. On the preparative scale, pDawn can induce by light the production of recombinant proteins and thus represents a cost-effective and readily automated alternative to conventional induction systems.
Structure and function of plant photoreceptors.
Signaling photoreceptors use the information contained in the absorption of a photon to modulate biological activity in plants and a wide range of organisms. The fundamental-and as yet imperfectly answered-question is, how is this achieved at the molecular level? We adopt the perspective of biophysicists interested in light-dependent signal transduction in nature and the three-dimensional structures that underpin signaling. Six classes of photoreceptors are known: light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) sensors, xanthopsins, phytochromes, blue-light sensors using flavin adenine dinucleotide (BLUF), cryptochromes, and rhodopsins. All are water-soluble proteins except rhodopsins, which are integral membrane proteins; all are based on a modular architecture except cryptochromes and rhodopsins; and each displays a distinct, light-dependent chemical process based on the photochemistry of their nonprotein chromophore, such as isomerization about a double bond (xanthopsins, phytochromes, and rhodopsins), formation or rupture of a covalent bond (LOV sensors), or electron transfer (BLUF sensors and cryptochromes).
Design and signaling mechanism of light-regulated histidine kinases.
Signal transduction proteins are organized into sensor (input) domains that perceive a signal and, in response, regulate the biological activity of effector (output) domains. We reprogrammed the input signal specificity of a normally oxygen-sensitive, light-inert histidine kinase by replacing its chemosensor domain by a light-oxygen-voltage photosensor domain. Illumination of the resultant fusion kinase YF1 reduced net kinase activity by approximately 1000-fold in vitro. YF1 also controls gene expression in a light-dependent manner in vivo. Signals are transmitted from the light-oxygen-voltage sensor domain to the histidine kinase domain via a 40 degrees -60 degrees rotational movement within an alpha-helical coiled-coil linker; light is acting as a rotary switch. These signaling principles are broadly applicable to domains linked by alpha-helices and to chemo- and photosensors. Conserved sequence motifs guide the rational design of light-regulated variants of histidine kinases and other proteins.
Light-activated DNA binding in a designed allosteric protein.
An understanding of how allostery, the conformational coupling of distant functional sites, arises in highly evolvable systems is of considerable interest in areas ranging from cell biology to protein design and signaling networks. We reasoned that the rigidity and defined geometry of an alpha-helical domain linker would make it effective as a conduit for allosteric signals. To test this idea, we rationally designed 12 fusions between the naturally photoactive LOV2 domain from Avena sativa phototropin 1 and the Escherichia coli trp repressor. When illuminated, one of the fusions selectively binds operator DNA and protects it from nuclease digestion. The ready success of our rational design strategy suggests that the helical "allosteric lever arm" is a general scheme for coupling the function of two proteins.
N- and C-terminal flanking regions modulate light-induced signal transduction in the LOV2 domain of the blue light sensor phototropin 1 from Avena sativa.
Light sensing by photoreceptors controls phototropism, chloroplast movement, stomatal opening, and leaf expansion in plants. Understanding the molecular mechanism by which these processes are regulated requires a quantitative description of photoreceptor dynamics. We focus on a light-driven signal transduction mechanism in the LOV2 domain (LOV, light, oxygen, voltage) of the blue light photoreceptor phototropin 1 from Avena sativa (oat). High-resolution crystal structures of the dark and light states of an oat LOV2 construct including residues Leu404 through Leu546 (LOV2 (404-546)) have been determined at 105 and 293 K. In all four structures, LOV2 (404-546) exhibits the typical Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) fold, flanked by an additional conserved N-terminal turn-helix-turn motif and a C-terminal flanking region containing an amphipathic Jalpha helix. These regions dock on the LOV2 core domain and bury several hydrophobic residues of the central beta-sheet of the core domain that would otherwise be exposed to solvent. Light structures of LOV2 (404-546) reveal that formation of the covalent bond between Cys450 and the C4a atom of the flavin mononucleotide (FMN) results in local rearrangement of the hydrogen-bonding network in the FMN binding pocket. These rearrangements are associated with disruption of the Asn414-Asp515 hydrogen bond on the surface of the protein and displacement of the N- and C-terminal flanking regions of LOV2 (404-546), both of which constitute a structural signal.
Structural basis for light-dependent signaling in the dimeric LOV domain of the photosensor YtvA.
The photosensor YtvA binds flavin mononucleotide and regulates the general stress reaction in Bacillus subtilis in response to blue light illumination. It belongs to the family of light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) proteins that were first described in plant phototropins and form a subgroup of the Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) superfamily. Here, we report the three-dimensional structure of the LOV domain of YtvA in its dark and light states. The protein assumes the global fold common to all PAS domains and dimerizes via a hydrophobic interface. Directly C-terminal to the core of the LOV domain, an alpha-helix extends into the solvent. Light absorption causes formation of a covalent bond between a conserved cysteine residue and atom C(4a) of the FMN ring, which triggers rearrangements throughout the LOV domain. Concomitantly, in the dark and light structures, the two subunits of the dimeric protein rotate relative to each other by 5 degrees . This small quaternary structural change is presumably a component of the mechanism by which the activity of YtvA is regulated in response to light. In terms of both structure and signaling mechanism, YtvA differs from plant phototropins and more closely resembles prokaryotic heme-binding PAS domains.
The LOV domain family: photoresponsive signaling modules coupled to diverse output domains.
For single-cell and multicellular systems to survive, they must accurately sense and respond to their cellular and extracellular environment. Light is a nearly ubiquitous environmental factor, and many species have evolved the capability to respond to this extracellular stimulus. Numerous photoreceptors underlie the activation of light-sensitive signal transduction cascades controlling these responses. Here, we review the properties of the light, oxygen, or voltage (LOV) family of blue-light photoreceptor domains, a subset of the Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) superfamily. These flavin-binding domains, first identified in the higher-plant phototropins, are now shown to be present in plants, fungi, and bacteria. Notably, LOV domains are coupled to a wide array of other domains, including kinases, phosphodiesterases, F-box domains, STAS domains, and zinc fingers, which suggests that the absorption of blue light by LOV domains regulates the activity of these structurally and functionally diverse domains. LOV domains contain a conserved molecular volume extending from the flavin cofactor, which is the locus for light-driven structural change, to the molecular surface. We discuss the role of this conserved volume of structure in LOV-regulated processes.