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Characterization of Red/Green Cyanobacteriochrome NpR6012g4 by Solution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: A Protonated Bilin Ring System in Both Photostates

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journal contribution
posted on 28.04.2015 by Nathan C. Rockwell, Shelley S. Martin, Sunghyuk Lim, J. Clark Lagarias, James B. Ames
Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are cyanobacterial photoreceptors distantly related to phytochromes. Both CBCRs and phytochromes use photoisomerization of a linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) chromophore to photoconvert between two states with distinct spectral and biochemical properties, the dark state and the photoproduct. The isolated CBCR domain NpR6012g4 from Nostoc punctiforme is a well-characterized member of the canonical red/green CBCR subfamily, photosensory domains that can function as sensors for light color or intensity to regulate phototactic responses of filamentous cyanobacteria. Such red/green CBCRs utilize conserved Phe residues to tune the photoproduct for green light absorption, but conflicting interpretations of the photoproduct chromophore structure have been proposed. In the hydration model, the proposed photoproduct state is extensively solvated, with a loosely bound, conformationally flexible chromophore. In the trapped-twist model, the photoproduct chromophore is sterically constrained by hydrophobic amino acids, including the known Phe residues. Here, we have characterized chromophore structure in NpR6012g4 using solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and a series of labeled chromophores. Four NH resonances are assigned for both the red-absorbing dark state and the green-absorbing photoproduct. Moreover, observed 13C chemical shifts are in good agreement with those obtained for protonated rather than deprotonated bilins in ab initio calculations. Our results demonstrate that NpR6012g4 has a protonated, cationic bilin π system in both photostates, consistent with a photoproduct structure in which the chromophore is not extensively hydrated.