Structural basis of photosensitivity in a bacterial light-oxygen-voltage/helix-turn-helix (LOV-HTH) DNA-binding protein.
Light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domains are blue light-activated signaling modules integral to a wide range of photosensory proteins. Upon illumination, LOV domains form internal protein-flavin adducts that generate conformational changes which control effector function. Here we advance our understanding of LOV regulation with structural, biophysical, and biochemical studies of EL222, a light-regulated DNA-binding protein. The dark-state crystal structure reveals interactions between the EL222 LOV and helix-turn-helix domains that we show inhibit DNA binding. Solution biophysical data indicate that illumination breaks these interactions, freeing the LOV and helix-turn-helix domains of each other. This conformational change has a key functional effect, allowing EL222 to bind DNA in a light-dependent manner. Our data reveal a conserved signaling mechanism among diverse LOV-containing proteins, where light-induced conformational changes trigger activation via a conserved interaction surface.
Steric interactions stabilize the signaling state of the LOV2 domain of phototropin 1.
Phototropins (phot1 and phot2) are blue light receptor kinases that control a range of photoresponses that serve to optimize the photosynthetic efficiency of plants. Light sensing by the phototropins is mediated by a repeated motif at the N-terminal region of the protein known as the LOV domain. Bacterially expressed LOV domains bind flavin mononucleotide noncovalently and are photochemically active in solution. Irradiation of the LOV domain results in the formation of a flavin-cysteinyl adduct (LOV390) which thermally relaxes back to the ground state in the dark, effectively completing a photocycle that serves as a molecular switch to control receptor kinase activity. We have employed a random mutagenesis approach to identify further amino acid residues involved in LOV-domain photochemistry. Escherichia coli colonies expressing a mutagenized population of LOV2 derived from Avena sativa (oat) phot1 were screened for variants that showed altered photochemical reactivity in response to blue light excitation. One variant showed slower rates of LOV390 formation but exhibited adduct decay times 1 order of magnitude faster than wild type. A single Ile --> Val substitution was responsible for the effects observed, which removes a single methyl group found in van der Waals contact with the cysteine sulfur involved in adduct formation. A kinetic acceleration trend was observed for adduct decay by decreasing the size of the isoleucine side chain. Our findings therefore indicate that the steric nature of this amino acid side chain contributes to stabilization of the C-S cysteinyl adduct.