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Mechanistic Insight into the Photosensory Versatility of DXCF Cyanobacteriochromes

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2012, 00:00 by Nathan C. Rockwell, Shelley S. Martin, J. Clark Lagarias
Cyanobacteriochromes (CBCRs) are photosensory proteins related to the red/far-red phytochromes. Like phytochromes, CBCRs use linear tetrapyrrole (bilin) chromophores covalently attached via a thioether linkage to a conserved Cys residue also found in plant and cyanobacterial phytochromes. Unlike almost all phytochromes, CBCRs require only an isolated GAF domain to undergo efficient, reversible photocycles that are responsible for their broad light sensing range, spanning the visible to the near ultraviolet (UV). Sensing of blue, violet, and near-UV light by CBCRs requires another Cys residue proposed to form a second linkage to the bilin precursor. Light triggers 15,16-double bond isomerization as in phytochromes. After photoisomerization, elimination of the second linkage frequently occurs, thus yielding a large red shift of the stable photoproducts. Here we examine this process for representative DXCF CBCRs, a large subfamily named for the conserved Asp-Xaa-Cys-Phe motif that contains their second Cys residue. DXCF CBCRs with such dual-Cys photocycles yield a wide diversity of photoproducts absorbing teal, green, or orange light. Using a combination of CD spectroscopy, chemical modification, and bilin substitution experiments with recombinant CBCRs from Thermosynechococcus elongatus and Nostoc punctiforme expressed in Escherichia coli, we establish that second-linkage elimination is required for all of these photocycles. We also identify deconjugation of the D-ring as the mechanism for specific detection of teal light, at approximately 500 nm. Our studies thus provide new mechanistic insight into the photosensory versatility of this important family of photosensory proteins.