Proton transfer reactions in the red light-activatable channelrhodopsin variant ReaChR and their relevance for its function.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Joel C D KaufmannFranz J Bartl

Abstract

Channelrhodopsins (ChRs) are light-gated ion channels widely used for activating selected cells in large cellular networks. ChR variants with a red-shifted absorption maximum, such as the modified Volvox carteri ChR1 red-activatable channelrhodopsin ("ReaChR," λmax = 527 nm), are of particular interest because longer wavelengths allow optical excitation of cells in deeper layers of organic tissue. In all ChRs investigated so far, proton transfer reactions and hydrogen bond changes are crucial for the formation of the ion-conducting pore and the selectivity for protons versus cations, such as Na+, K+, and Ca2+ (1). By using a combination of electrophysiological measurements and UV-visible and FTIR spectroscopy, we characterized the proton transfer events in the photocycle of ReaChR and describe their relevance for its function. 1) The central gate residue Glu130 (Glu90 in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Cr) ChR2) (i) undergoes a hydrogen bond change in D → K transition and (ii) deprotonates in K → M transition. Its negative charge in the open state is decisive for proton selectivity. 2) The counter-ion Asp293 (Asp253 in CrChR2) receives the retinal Schiff base proton during M-state formation. Starting from M, a photocycle branching o...Continue Reading

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