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Spectroscopic and Photochemical Characterization of the Red-Light Sensitive Photosensory Module of Cph2 from Synechocystis PCC 6803


Corresponding author email: (Lars-Oliver Essen)


Cyanobacterial phytochromes are a diverse family of light receptors controlling various biological functions including phototaxis. In addition to canonical bona fide phytochromes of the well characterized Cph1/plant-like clade, cyanobacteria also harbor phytochromes that absorb green, violet or blue light. The Synechocystis PCC 6803 Cph2 photoreceptor, a phototaxis inhibitor, is unconventional in bearing two distinct chromophore-binding GAF domains. Whereas the C-terminal GAF domain is most likely involved in blue-light perception, the first two domains correspond to a Cph1-like photosensory module lacking the PAS domain. Biochemical and spectroscopic studies show that this region switches between red (Pr) and far-red (Pfr) absorbing states. Unlike Cph1, the Pfr state of Cph2 decays rapidly in darkness. Mutations close to the PCB chromophore further destabilize the Pfr state without drastically affecting the spectroscopic features such as the quantum efficiency of Pr→Pfr conversion, fluorescence, or the Resonance-Raman signature of the chromophore. Overall, the PAS-less photosensory module of Cph2 resembles Cph1 including its mode of isomerisation, but the Pfr state is unstable.