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Mol Cell. 2003 Jan;11(1):59-67.

Identification of a new cryptochrome class. Structure, function, and evolution.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Cryptochrome flavoproteins, which share sequence homology with light-dependent DNA repair photolyases, function as photoreceptors in plants and circadian clock components in animals. Here, we coupled sequencing of an Arabidopsis cryptochrome gene with phylogenetic, structural, and functional analyses to identify a new cryptochrome class (cryptochrome DASH) in bacteria and plants, suggesting that cryptochromes evolved before the divergence of eukaryotes and prokaryotes. The cryptochrome crystallographic structure, reported here for Synechocystis cryptochrome DASH, reveals commonalities with photolyases in DNA binding and redox-dependent function, despite distinct active-site and interaction surface features. Whole genome transcriptional profiling together with experimental confirmation of DNA binding indicated that Synechocystis cryptochrome DASH functions as a transcriptional repressor.

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