Optical control of transcription - genetically encoded photoswitchable variants of T7 RNA polymerase.
Abstract: Light-sensing protein domains that link an exogenous light signal to the activity of an enzyme have attracted much notice for engineering new regulatory mechanisms into proteins and for studying the dynamic behavior of intracellular reactions as well as reaction cascades. Light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) photoreceptors are blue light-sensing modules that have been intensely characterized for this purpose and linked to several proteins of interest. For successful application of these tools it is crucial to identify appropriate fusion strategies for combining sensor and enzyme domains that sustain activity and light-induced responsivity. Terminal fusion of LOV domains is the natural strategy; however, this is not transferrable to T7 RNA polymerase since both of its termini are involved in catalysis. We show here that it is possible to covalently insert LOV domains into the polymerase protein while preserving its activity and generating new light-responsive allosteric coupling.