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Bile Acid Binding Protein Functionalization Leads to a Fully Synthetic Rhodopsin Mimic

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2019, 00:00 by Katiuscia Pagano, Marco Paolino, Stefania Fusi, Vinicio Zanirato, Claudio Trapella, Germano Giuliani, Andrea Cappelli, Serena Zanzoni, Henriette Molinari, Laura Ragona, Massimo Olivucci
Rhodopsins are photoreceptive proteins using light to drive a plethora of biological functions such as vision, proton and ion pumping, cation and anion channeling, and gene and enzyme regulation. Here we combine organic synthesis, NMR structural studies, and photochemical characterization to show that it is possible to prepare a fully synthetic mimic of rhodopsin photoreceptors. More specifically, we conjugate a bile acid binding protein with a synthetic mimic of the rhodopsin protonated Schiff base chromophore to achieve a covalent complex featuring an unnatural protein host, photoswitch, and photoswitch-protein linkage with a reverse orientation. We show that, in spite of its molecular-level diversity, light irradiation of the prepared mimic fuels a photochromic cycle driven by sequential photochemical and thermal Z/E isomerizations reminiscent of the photocycles of microbial rhodopsins.