A circularly permuted photoactive yellow protein as a scaffold for photoswitch design.
Abstract: Upon blue light irradiation, photoactive yellow protein (PYP) undergoes a conformational change that involves large movements at the N-terminus of the protein. We reasoned that this conformational change might be used to control other protein or peptide sequences if these were introduced as linkers connecting the N- and C-termini of PYP in a circular permutant. For such a design strategy to succeed, the circularly permuted PYP (cPYP) would have to fold normally and undergo a photocycle similar to that of the wild-type protein. We created a test cPYP by connecting the N- and C-termini of wild-type PYP (wtPYP) with a GGSGGSGG linker polypeptide and introducing new N- and C-termini at G115 and S114, respectively. Biophysical analysis indicated that this cPYP adopts a dark-state conformation much like wtPYP and undergoes wtPYP-like photoisomerization driven by blue light. However, thermal recovery of dark-state cPYP is ∼10-fold faster than that of wtPYP, so that very bright light is required to significantly populate the light state. Targeted mutations at M121E (M100 in wtPYP numbering) were found to enhance the light sensitivity substantially by lengthening the lifetime of the light state to ∼10 min. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), circular dichroism, and UV-vis analysis indicated that the M121E-cPYP mutant also adopts a dark-state structure like that of wtPYP, although protonated and deprotonated forms of the chromophore coexist, giving rise to a shoulder near 380 nm in the UV-vis absorption spectrum. Fluorine NMR studies with fluorotryptophan-labeled M121E-cPYP show that blue light drives large changes in conformational dynamics and leads to solvent exposure of Trp7 (Trp119 in wtPYP numbering), consistent with substantial rearrangement of the N-terminal cap structure. M121E-cPYP thus provides a scaffold that may allow a wider range of photoswitchable protein designs via replacement of the linker polypeptide with a target protein or peptide sequence.