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Abstract

The knowledge on the mechanisms by which blue light (BL) is sensed by diverse and numerous organisms, and of the physiological responses elicited by the BL photoreceptors, has grown remarkably during the last two decades. The basis for this “blue revival” was set by the identification and molecular characterization of long sought plant BL sensors, employing flavins as chromophores, chiefly cryptochromes and phototropins. The latter photosensors are the foundation members of the so-called light, oxygen, voltage (LOV)-protein family, largely spread among archaea, bacteria, fungi and plants. The accumulation of sequenced microbial genomes during the last years has added the BLUF (Blue Light sensing Using FAD) family to the BL photoreceptors and yielded the opportunity for intense “genome mining,” which has presented to us the intriguing wealth of BL sensing in prokaryotes. In this contribution we provide an update of flavin-based BL sensors of the LOV and BLUF type, from prokaryotic microorganisms, with special emphasis to their light-activation pathways and molecular signal-transduction mechanisms. Rather than being a fully comprehensive review, this research collects the most recent discoveries and aims to unveil and compare signaling pathways and mechanisms of BL sensors.