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

Selectivity of retinal photoisomerization in proteorhodopsin is controlled by aspartic acid 227.

Similarly to bacteriorhodopsin, proteorhodopsin that normally contains all-trans and 13-cis retinal is transformed at low pH to a species containing 9-cis retinal under continuous illumination at lambda > 530 nm. This species, absorbing around 430 nm, returns thermally in tens of minutes to initial pigment and can be reconverted also with blue-light illumination. The yield of the 9-cis species is negligibly small at neutral pH but increases manyfold (>100) at acid pH with a pK(a) of 2. 6. This indicates that protonation of acidic group(s) alters the photoreaction pathway that leads normally to all-trans --> 13-cis isomerization. In the D97N mutant, in which one of the two acidic groups in the vicinity of the retinal Schiff base is not ionizable, the yield of 9-cis species at low pH shows a pH dependence similar to that in the wild-type but with a somewhat increased pK(a) of 3. 3. In contrast to this relatively minor effect, replacement of the other acidic group, Asp227, with Asn results in a remarkable, more than 50-fold, increase in the yield of the light-induced formation of 9-cis species in the pH range 4-6. It appears that protonation of Asp227 at low pH is what causes the dramatic increase in the yield of the 9-cis species in wild-type proteorhodopsin. We conclude that the photoisomerization pathways in proteorhodopsin to 13-cis or 9-cis photoproducts are controlled by the charge state of Asp227.[1]


  1. Selectivity of retinal photoisomerization in proteorhodopsin is controlled by aspartic acid 227. Imasheva, E.S., Balashov, S.P., Wang, J.M., Dioumaev, A.K., Lanyi, J.K. Biochemistry (2004) [Pubmed]
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