FTIR difference and resonance raman spectroscopy of rhodopsins with applications to optogenetics
Saint Clair, Erica C.
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The major aim of this thesis is to investigate the molecular basis for the function of several types of rhodopsins with special emphasis on their application to the new field of optogenetics. Rhodopsins are transmembrane biophotonic proteins with 7 a-helices and a retinal chromophore. Studies included Archaerhodopsin 3 (AR3), a light driven proton pump similar to the extensively studied bacteriorhodopsin (BR); channelrhodopsins 1 and 2, light-activated ion channels; sensory rhodopsin II (SRII), a light-sensing protein that modulates phototaxis used in archaebacteria; and squid rhodopsins (sRho), the major photopigment in squid vision and a model for human melanopsin, which controls circadian rythms. The primary techniques used in these studies were FTIR difference spectroscopy and resonance Raman spectroscopy. These techniques, in combination with site directed mutagenesis and other biochemical methodologies produced new knowledge regarding the structural changes of the retinal chromophore, the location and function of internal water molecules as well as specific amino acids and peptide backbone. Specialized techniques were developed that allowed rhodopsins to be studied in intact membrane environments and in some cases in vivo measurements were made on rhodopsin heterologously expressed in E. coli thus allowing the effects of interacting proteins and membrane potential to be investigated. Evidence was found that the local environment of one or more internal water molecules in SRII is altered by interaction with its cognate transducer, Htrii, and is also affected by the local lipid environment. In the case of AR3, many of the broad IR continuum absorption changes below 3000 cm-1, assigned to networks of water molecules involved in proton transport through cytoplasmic and extracellular portions in BR, were found to be very similar to BR. Bands assigned to water molecules near the Schiff base postulated to be involved in proton transport were, however, shifted or absent. Structural changes of internal water molecules and possible bands associated with the interaction with ,8-arrestins were also detected in photoactivated squid rhodopsin when transformed to the acid Meta intermediate. Near-IR confocal resonance Raman measurements were performed both on AR3 reconstituted into E. coli polar lipids and in vivo in E. coli expressing AR3 in the absence and presence of a negative transmembrane potential. On the basis of these measurements, a model is proposed which provides a possible explanation for the observed fluorescence dependence of AR3 and other microbial rhodopsins on transmembrane potential.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Boston University