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A Hydrogen Bond Between Linear Tetrapyrrole and Conserved Aspartate Causes the Far-Red Shifted Absorption of Phytochrome Photoreceptors

submitted on 10.05.2020, 14:16 and posted on 12.05.2020, 10:03 by Egle Maximowitsch, Tatiana Domratcheva
Photoswitching of phytochrome photoreceptors between red-absorbing (Pr) and far-red absorbing (Pfr) states triggers light adaptation of plants, bacteria and other organisms. Using quantum chemistry, we elucidate the color-tuning mechanism of phytochromes and identify the origin of the Pfr-state red-shifted spectrum. Spectral variations are explained by resonance interactions of the protonated linear tetrapyrrole chromophore. In particular, hydrogen bonding of pyrrole ring D with the strictly conserved aspartate shifts the positive charge towards ring D thereby inducing the red spectral shift. Our MD simulations demonstrate that formation of the ring D–aspartate hydrogen bond depends on interactions between the chromophore binding domain (CBD) and phytochrome specific domain (PHY). Our study guides rational engineering of fluorescent phytochromes with a far-red shifted spectrum.


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Max Planck Institute for Medical Research



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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

There is no conflict of interests to be declared.