Title:Role of a helix B lysine residue in the photoactive site in channelrhodopsins.
Authors:Li H; Govorunova EG; Sineshchekov OA; Spudich JL
Publication:Biophys J. 2014 Apr 15;106(8):1607-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.03.002.
In most studied microbial rhodopsins two conserved carboxylic acid residues (the homologs of Asp-85 and Asp-212 in bacteriorhodopsin) and an arginine residue (the homolog of Arg-82) form a complex counterion to the protonated retinylidene Schiff base, and neutralization of the negatively charged carboxylates causes red shifts of the absorption maximum. In contrast, the corresponding neutralizing mutations in some relatively low-efficiency channelrhodopsins (ChRs) result in blue shifts. These ChRs do not contain a lysine residue in the second helix, conserved in higher efficiency ChRs (Lys-132 in the crystallized ChR chimera). By action spectroscopy of photoinduced channel currents in HEK293 cells and absorption spectroscopy of detergent-purified pigments, we found that in tested ChRs the Lys-132 homolog controls the direction of spectral shifts in the mutants of the photoactive site carboxylic acid residues. Analysis of double mutants shows that red spectral shifts occur when this Lys is present, whether naturally or by mutagenesis, and blue shifts occur when it is replaced with a neutral residue. A neutralizing mutation of the Lys-132 homolog alone caused a red spectral shift in high-efficiency ChRs, whereas its introduction into low-efficiency ChR1 from Chlamydomonas augustae (CaChR1) caused a blue shift. Taking into account that the effective charge of the carboxylic acid residues is a key factor in microbial rhodopsin spectral tuning, these findings suggest that the Lys-132 homolog modulates their pKa values. On the other hand, mutation of the Arg-82 homolog that fulfills this role in bacteriorhodopsin caused minimal spectral changes in the tested ChRs. Titration revealed that the pKa of the Asp-85 homolog in CaChR1 lies in the alkaline region unlike in most studied microbial rhodopsins, but is substantially decreased by introduction of a Lys-132 homolog or neutralizing mutation of the Asp-212 homolog. In the three ChRs tested the Lys-132 homolog also alters channel current kinetics.