Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 31;134(43):18046-52. doi: 10.1021/ja3074819. Epub 2012 Oct 19.

Decrypting cryptochrome: revealing the molecular identity of the photoactivation reaction.

Author information

1
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA. ilia@illinois.edu

Abstract

Migrating birds fly thousands of miles or more, often without visual cues and in treacherous winds, yet keep direction. They employ for this purpose, apparently as a powerful navigational tool, the photoreceptor protein cryptochrome to sense the geomagnetic field. The unique biological function of cryptochrome supposedly arises from a photoactivation reaction involving radical pair formation through electron transfer. Radical pairs, indeed, can act as a magnetic compass; however, the cryptochrome photoreaction pathway is not fully resolved yet. To reveal this pathway and underlying photochemical mechanisms, we carried out a combination of quantum chemical calculations and molecular dynamics simulations on plant ( Arabidopsis thaliana ) cryptochrome. The results demonstrate that after photoexcitation a radical pair forms, becomes stabilized through proton transfer, and decays back to the protein's resting state on time scales allowing the protein, in principle, to act as a radical pair-based magnetic sensor. We briefly relate our findings on A. thaliana cryptochrome to photoreaction pathways in animal cryptochromes.

PMID:
23009093
PMCID:
PMC3500783
DOI:
10.1021/ja3074819
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center