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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dimerization and inter-chromophore distance of Cph1 phytochrome from Synechocystis, as monitored by fluorescence homo and hetero energy transfer.

We investigated the dimerization of phytochrome Cph1 from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). As donor we used the chromophore analogue phycoerythrobilin (PEB) and as acceptor either the natural chromophore phycocyanobilin (PCB; hetero transfer) or PEB (homo transfer). Both chromophores bind in a 1:1 stoichiometry to apo-monomers expressed in Escherichia coli. Energy transfer was characterized by time-resolved fluorescence intensity and anisotropy decay after excitation of PEB by picosecond pulses from a tunable Ti-sapphire laser system. ApoCph1 was first assembled with PEB at a low stoichiometry of 0. 1. The remaining sites were then sequentially titrated with PCB. In the course of this titration, the mean lifetime of PEB decreased from 3.33 to 1.25 ns in the P(r) form of Cph1, whereas the anisotropy decay was unaffected. In the P(fr)/P(r) photoequilibrium (about 65% P(fr)), the mean lifetime decreased significantly less, to 1.67 ns. These observations provide strong support for inter-chromophore hetero energy transfer in mixed PEB/PCB dimers. The reduced energy transfer in P(fr) may be due to a structural difference but is at least in part due to the difference in spectral overlap, which was 4.1 x 10(-13) and 1.6 x 10(-13) cm(3) M(-1) in P(r) and P(fr), respectively. From the changes in the mean lifetime, rates of hetero energy transfer of 0.68 and 0.37 ns(-1) were calculated for the P(r) form and the P(fr)/P(r) photoequilibrium, respectively. Sequential titration of apo Cph1 with PEB alone to full occupancy did not affect the intensity decay but led to a substantial increase in depolarization. This is the experimental signature of homo energy transfer. Values for the rate of energy transfer k(HT) (0.47 ns(-1)) and the angle 2theta between the transition dipole moment directions (2theta = 45 +/- 5 degrees) were determined from an analysis of the concentration dependence of the anisotropy at five different PEB/Cph1 stoichiometries. The independently determined rates of hetero and homo energy transfer are thus of comparable magnitude and consistent with the energy transfer interpretation. Using these results and exploiting the 2-fold symmetry of the dimer, the chromophore-chromophore distance R(DA) was calculated and found to be in the range 49 A < R(DA) < 63 A. Further evidence for energy transfer in Cph1 dimers was obtained from dilution experiments with PEB/PEB dimers: the lifetime was unchanged, but the anisotropy increased as the dimers dissociated with increasing dilution. These experiments allowed a rough estimate of 5 +/- 3 microM for the dimer dissociation constant. With the deletion mutant Cph1Delta2 that lacks the carboxy terminal histidine kinase domain less energy transfer was observed suggesting that in this mutant dimerization is much weaker. The carboxy terminal domain of Cph1 that is involved in intersubunit trans-phosphorylation and signal transduction thus plays a dominant role in the dimerization. The FRET method provides a sensitive assay to monitor the association of Cph1 monomers.[1]


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