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Ultrafast protein response in the Pfr state of Cph1 phytochrome

Yang, Yang; Stensitzki, Till; Lang, Christina; Hughes, Jon; Mroginski, Maria Andrea; Heyne, Karsten

Photoisomerization is a fundamental process in several classes of photoreceptors. Phytochromes sense red and far-red light in their Pr and Pfr states, respectively. Upon light absorption, these states react via individual photoreactions to the other state. Cph1 phytochrome shows a photoisomerization of its phycocyanobilin (PCB) chromophore in the Pfr state with a time constant of 0.7 ps. The dynamics of the PCB chromophore has been described, but whether or not the apoprotein exhibits an ultrafast response too, is not known. Here, we compare the photoreaction of 13C/15N labeled apoprotein with unlabeled apoprotein to unravel ultrafast apoprotein dynamics in Cph1. In the spectral range from 1750 to 1620 cm−1 we assigned several signals due to ultrafast apoprotein dynamics. A bleaching signal at 1724 cm−1 is tentatively assigned to deprotonation of a carboxylic acid, probably Asp207, and signals around 1670 cm−1 are assigned to amide I vibrations of the capping helix close to the chromophore. These signals remain after photoisomerization. The apoprotein dynamics appear upon photoexcitation or concomitant with chromophore isomerization. Thus, apoprotein dynamics occur prior to and after photoisomerization on an ultrafast time-scale. We discuss the origin of the ultrafast apoprotein response with the ‘Coulomb hammer’ mechanism, i.e. an impulsive change of electric field and Coulombic force around the chromophore upon excitation.
Published in: Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 10.1007/s43630-023-00362-z, Springer Nature