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Biophys J. 1993 Jul;65(1):508-18.

Comparative study of phototactic and photophobic receptor chromophore properties in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.


The motile, unicellular, eukaryotic alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exhibits two distinct behavioral reactions to light stimuli, phototaxis and the photophobic response. Both are mediated by retinal-containing receptors. This paper focuses on a direct comparison of the two photoresponses and the chromophore requirements for their photoreceptor(s). Using computerized motion analysis assays for phototaxis and photophobic responses by the same populations of cells, we measured the ability of various isomers and analogues of retinal to reconstitute photobehavior in the pigment-deficient mutant FN68. The results indicate that photophobic and phototaxis responses each require chromophores with an all-trans polyene chain configuration, planar ionone ring/polyene chain conformation, and the ability to isomerize around the retinal C13-C14 double bond. One difference between the two behaviors is that the photophobic response becomes highly desensitized after light stimuli to which the phototaxis response does not become desensitized, indicating the existence of at least one distinct step in the photophobic response pathway. A second difference is that the retinal regeneration of the photophobic response but not of phototaxis is inhibited by a 5-membered ring 13-trans-locked analogue. While showing close similarity in the chromophore structural requirements of the two behaviors, the results indicate that differences exist between the two responses at the level of their photoreceptor proteins and/or in their transduction processes.

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