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J Biochem. 1999 Apr;125(4):649-57.

Halobacterial rhodopsins.

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Division of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya, 464-8602, Japan.


Following the discovery of the bacteriorhodopsin proton pump in Halobacterium halobium (salinarum), not only the halorhodopsin halide pump and two photosensor rhodopsins (sensory rhodopsin and phoborhodopsin) in the same species, but also homologs of these four rhodopsins in strains of other genera of Halobacteriaceae have been reported. Twenty-eight full (and partial) sequences of the genomic DNA of these rhodopsins have been analyzed. The deduced amino acid sequences have led to new strategies and tactics for understanding bacterial rhodopsins on a comparative basis, as summarized briefly in this article. The data discussed include (i) alignment of the sequences to qualify/characterize the conserved residues; (ii) assignment of residues that cause differences in function(s)/properties; and (iii) phylogeny of the halobacterial rhodopsins to suggest their evolutionary paths. The four kinds of rhodopsin in each strain are assumed, on the basis of their genera-specific distributions, to have arisen by at least two gene-duplication processes during evolution prior to generic speciation. The first duplication of the rhodopsin ancestor gene yielded two genes, each of which was duplicated again to give four genes in the ancestor halobacterium. The bacterium carrying four rhodopsin genes, after accumulating mutations, became ready for generic speciation and the delivery of four rhodopsins to each species. The original rhodopsin ancestor is speculated to be closest to the proton pump (bacteriorhodopsin).

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