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Biochemistry. 2008 Feb 19;47(7):2014-24. doi: 10.1021/bi701486n. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Photoactive yellow protein from the halophilic bacterium Salinibacter ruber.

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Laboratory of Protein Biochemistry and Protein Engineering, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


A gene for photoactive yellow protein (PYP) was identified from the genome sequence of the extremely halophilic aerobic bacterium Salinibacter ruber (Sr). The sequence is distantly related to the prototypic PYP from Halorhodospira halophila (Hh) (37% identity) and contains most of the amino acid residues identified as necessary for function. However, the Sr pyp gene is not flanked by its two biosynthetic genes as in other species. To determine as to whether the Sr pyp gene encodes a functional protein, we cloned and expressed it in Escherichia coli, along with the genes for chromophore biosynthesis from Rhodobacter capsulatus. The Sr PYP has a 31-residue N-terminal extension as compared to other PYPs that appears to be important for dimerization; however, truncation of these extra residues did not change the spectral and photokinetic properties. Sr PYP has an absorption maximum at 431 nm, which is at shorter wavelengths than the prototypical Hh PYP (at 446 nm). It is also photoactive, being reversibly bleached by either blue or white light. The kinetics of dark recovery is slower than any of the PYPs reported to date (4.27 x 10(-4) s(-1) at pH 7.5). Sr PYP appears to have a normal photocycle with the I1 and I2 intermediates. The presence of the I2' intermediate is also inferred on the basis of the effects of temperature and alchohol on recovery. Sr PYP has an intermediate spectral form in equilibrium with the 431 nm form, similar to R. capsulatus PYP and the Y42F mutant of Hh PYP. Increasing ionic strength stabilizes the 431 nm form at the expense of the intermediate spectral form, and the kinetics of recovery is accelerated 6.4-fold between 0 and 3.5 M salt. This is observed with ions from both the chaotropic and the kosmotropic series. Ionic strength also stabilizes PYP against thermal denaturation, as the melting temperature is increased from 74 degrees C in buffer alone to 92 degrees C in 2 M KCl. Sr accumulates KCl in the cytoplasm, like Halobacterium, to balance osmotic pressure and has very acidic proteins. We thus believe that Sr PYP is an example of a halophilic protein that requires KCl to electrostatically screen the excess negative charge and stabilize the tertiary structure.

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