ABSTRACT: An extended hydrogen-bonding (HB) network stabilizes the isoalloxazine ring of the flavin mononucleotide (FMN) chromophore within the photosensing LOV domain of blue-light protein receptors, via interactions between the C- (2)dO, N(3)H, C(4)dO, and N(5) groups and conserved glutamine and asparagine residues. In this work we studied the influence of the HB network on the efficiency, kinetics, and energetics of a LOV protein photocycle, involving the reversible formation of a FMNcysteine covalent adduct. The following results were found for mutations of the conserved amino acids N94, N104, andQ123 in the Bacillus subtilis LOV protein YtvA: (i) Increased (N104D, N94D) or strongly reduced (N94A) rate of adduct formation; this latter mutation extends the lifetime of the flavin triplet state, i.e., adduct formation, more than 60-fold, from 2 μs for the wild-type (WT) protein to 129 μs. (ii) Acceleration of the overall photocycle for N94S, N94A, and Q123N, with recovery lifetimes 20, 45, and 85 times faster than for YtvA-WT, respectively. (iii) Slight modifications of FMN spectral features, correlated with the polarization of low-energy transitions. (iv) Strongly reduced (N94S) or suppressed (Q123N) structural volume changes accompanying adduct formation, as determined by optoacoustic spectroscopy. (v) Minor effects on the quantum yield, with the exception of a considerable reduction for Q123N, i.e., 0.22 vs 0.49 for YtvA-WT. The data stress the importance of the HB network in modulating the photocycle of LOV domains, while at the same time establishing a link with functional responses.
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