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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Jun;6(6):488-94. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1893. Epub 2008 May 13.

Proteorhodopsins: an array of physiological roles?

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences and Wrigley Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0371, USA.


Metagenomic analyses have revealed widespread and diverse retinal-binding rhodopsin proteins (named proteorhodopsins) among numerous marine bacteria and archaea, which has challenged the notion that solar energy can only enter marine ecosystems by chlorophyll-based photosynthesis. Most marine proteorhodopsins share structural and functional similarities with archaeal bacteriorhodopsins, which generate proton motive force via light-activated proton pumping, thereby ultimately powering ATP production. This suggests an energetic role for proteorhodopsins. However, results from a growing number of investigations do not readily fit this model, which indicates that proteorhodopsins could have a range of physiological functions.

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