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Biochemistry. 2003 Jul 22;42(28):8494-500.

Structural changes in lumirhodopsin and metarhodopsin I studied by their photoreactions at 77 K.

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  • 1Department of Applied Chemistry, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8555, Japan.


The functional process of rhodopsin is initiated by cis-trans photoisomerization of the retinal chromophore. One of the primary intermediates, bathorhodopsin (Batho), is stable at 77 K, and structural changes in Batho are limited around the chromophore. Then, relaxation of Batho leads to helix opening at the cytoplasmic surface in metarhodopsin II (Meta II), which allows activation of a G protein transducin. Two intermediates, lumirhodopsin (Lumi) and metarhodopsin I (Meta I), appear between Batho and Meta II, and can be stabilized at 200 and 240 K, respectively. A photoaffinity labeling experiment reported that formation of Lumi accompanied flip-over of the beta-ionone ring of the retinal chromophore so that the ring portion was attached to Ala169 of helix IV [Borhan, B., Souto, M. L., Imai, H., Shichida, Y., and Nakanishi, K. (2000) Science 288, 2209-2212]. According to the crystal structure of bovine rhodopsin, the distance between the labeled C3 atom of the chromophore and Ala169 was >15 A [Palczewski, K., Kumasaka, T., Hori, T., Behnke, C. A., Motoshima, H., Fox, B. A., Le Trong, I., Teller, D. C., Okada, T., Stenkamp, R. E., Yamamoto, M., and Miyano, M. (2000) Science 289, 739-745]. These facts suggest that global protein structural changes such as helix motions take place in Lumi. In the study presented here, Lumi and Meta I are illuminated at 77 K, and protein structural changes are probed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. We found that Lumi can be photoconverted to rhodopsin at 77 K from the IR spectral analysis of the photoproducts of Lumi. In contrast, more complex spectra were obtained for the photoproducts of Meta I at 77 K, implying that the protein structure of Meta I is considerably altered so as not to be reverted to the original state at 77 K. Thus, these photoreaction experiments with Lumi and Meta I at 77 K suggested the presence of global protein structural changes in the process between them. We concluded that the helix motions do not occur at Lumi, but at Meta I, and the flip-over of the beta-ionone ring reported by the photoaffinity labeling takes place through the specific reaction channel without a change in the global structure.

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