UMR 8640 : Photochimie Ultrarapide

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Loss of fourth electron-transferring tryptophan in animal (6–4) photolyase impairs DNA repair activity in bacterial cells.

(6–4) photolyases ((6–4)PLs) are flavoproteins that use blue light to repair the UV-induced pyrimidine(6–4)pyrimidone photoproduct in DNA. Their FAD cofactor can be reduced to its repair-active FADH form by a photoinduced electron transfer reaction. In animal (6–4)PLs, a chain of four Trp residues was suggested to be involved in a step-wise transfer of an oxidation hole from the flavin to the surface of the protein. Here, we investigated the effect of mutation of the fourth Trp on the DNA photorepair activity of Xenopus laevis (6–4)PL (Xl64) in bacterial cells. The photoreduction and photorepair properties of this mutant protein were independently characterized in vitro. Our results demonstrate that the mutation of the fourth Trp in Xl64 drastically impairs the DNA repair activity in cells, and that this effect is due to the inhibition of the photoreduction process. We thereby show that the photoreductive formation of FADH through the Trp tetrad is essential for the biological function of the animal (6–4)PL. The role of the Trp cascade, and of the fourth Trp in particular, are discussed.


Ultrafast flavin photoreduction in an oxidized animal (6-4) photolyase through an unconventional tryptophan tetrad.

Photolyases are flavoenzymes repairing UV-induced lesions in DNA, which may be activated by a photoreduction of their FAD cofactor. In most photolyases, this photoreduction proceeds by electron transfer along a chain of three tryptophan (Trp) residues, connecting the flavin to the protein surface. Much less studied, animal (6-4) photolyases (repairing pyrimidine-pyrimidone (6–4) photoproducts) are particularly interesting as they were recently shown to have a longer electron transfer chain, counting four Trp residues. Using femtosecond polarized transient absorption spectroscopy, we performed a detailed analysis of the photoactivation reaction in the (6-4) photolyase of Xenopus laevis with oxidized FAD. We showed that the excited flavin is very quickly reduced (~0.5 ps) by a nearby tryptophan residue, yielding FAD●– and WH●+ radicals. Subsequent kinetic steps in the picosecond regime were assigned to the migration of the positive charge along the Trp tetrad, in competition with charge recombination. We propose that the positive charge is actually delocalized over various Trp residues during most of the dynamics and that charge recombination essentially occurs through the proximal tryptophanyl radical. Oxidation of the fourth tryptophan is thought to be reached about as fast as that of the third one (~40 ps), based on a comparison with a mutant protein lacking the distal Trp, implying ultrafast electron transfer between these two residues. This unusual mechanism sheds light on the rich diversity of electron transfer pathways found in various photolyases, and evolution-related cryptochromes alike.


Photoinduced Chromophore Hydration in the Fluorescent Protein Dreiklang Is Triggered by Ultrafast Excited-State Proton Transfer Coupled to a Low-Frequency Vibration

J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2017, 8, 1489−1495


Because of growing applications in advanced fluorescence imaging, the mechanisms and dynamics of photoinduced reactions in reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent proteins are currently attracting much interest. We report the fi rst timeresolved study of the photoswitching of Dreiklang, so far the only fluorescent protein to undergo reversible photoinduced chromophore hydration. Using broadband femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy, we show that the reaction is triggered by an ultrafast deprotonation of the chromophore phenol group in the excited state in 100 fs. This primary step is accompanied by coherent oscillations that we assign to its coupling with a low-frequency mode, possibly a deformation of the chromophore hydrogen bond network. A ground-state intermediate is formed in the picosecond− nanosecond regime that we tentatively assign to the deprotonated water adduct. We suggest that proton ejection from the phenol group leads to a charge transfer from the phenol to the imidazolinone ring, which triggers imidazolinone protonation by nearby Glu222 and catalyzes the addition of the water molecule.




Ultrafast Dynamics of a Green Fluorescent Protein Chromophore Analogue: Competition between Excited-State Proton Transfer and Torsional Relaxation

J. Phys. Chem. B2016120 (36), pp 9716–9722


The competition between excited-state proton transfer (ESPT) and torsion plays a central role in the photophysics of fluorescent proteins of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) family and their chromophores. Here, it was investigated in a single GFP chromophore analogue bearing o-hydroxy and p-diethylamino substituents, OHIM. The light-induced dynamics of OHIM was studied by femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy, at different pH. We found that the photophysics of OHIM is determined by the electron-donating character of the diethylamino group: torsional relaxation dominates when the diethylamino group is neutral, whereas ultrafast ESPT followed by cis/trans isomerization and ground-state reprotonation are observed when the diethylamino group is protonated and therefore inactive as an electron donor.

Discovery and Functional Analysis of a 4th Electron-Transferring Tryptophan Conserved Exclusively in Animal Cryptochromes and (6-4) Photolyases


A 4th electron transferring tryptophan in animal cryptochromes and (6-4) photolyases is discovered and functionally analyzed by transient absorption. It yields a much longer-lived flavin-tryptophan radical pair than the mere tryptophan triad in related flavoproteins, questioning the putative role of the primary light reaction of cryptochrome in animal magnetoreception.