The Role of the NDQ Motif in Sodium-Pumping Rhodopsins.
ABSTRACT: Sodium-pumping rhodopsins (NaRs) are light-driven outward Na(+) pumps. NaRs have a conserved Asn, Asp, and Gln motif (NDQ) in the third transmembrane helix (helix C). The NDQ motif is thus expected to play a crucial role in the operation of the Na(+) pump. Herein, we studied the photocycles of the NDQ-motif mutants of Krokinobacter rhodopsin 2 (KR2), the first discovered NaR, by flash photolysis, to obtain insight into the mechanism of Na(+) transport. For example, the KR2 N112A mutant did not accumulate the transient red-shifted Na(+)-bound state, suggesting that Asn112 is vital for the binding of Na(+) ions. Additionally, Q123A and Q123V mutants showed significantly slower Na(+) uptake and recovery of the initial state. Overall, the Gln123 residue was found to contribute to the optimization of the kinetics of sodium-ion uptake and release. These results demonstrate that the cooperative operation of the three residues of the NDQ motif are important in the operation of the Na(+) pump.
Project description:With the progress of optogenetics, the activities of genetically identified neurons can be optically silenced to determine whether the neurons in question are necessary for the network performance of the behavioral expression. This logical induction is expected to be improved by the application of the Na+ pump rhodopsins (NaRs), which hyperpolarize the membrane potential with negligible influence on the ionic/pH balance. Here, we made several chimeric NaRs between two NaRs, KR2 and IaNaR from Krokinobacter eikastus and Indibacter alkaliphilus, respectively. We found that one of these chimeras, named I1K6NaR, exhibited some improvements in the membrane targeting and photocurrent properties over native NaRs. The I1K6NaR-expressing cortical neurons were stably silenced by green light irradiation for a certain long duration. With its rapid kinetics and voltage dependency, the photoactivation of I1K6NaR would specifically counteract the generation of action potentials with less hyperpolarization of the neuronal membrane potential than KR2.
Project description:Sodium pumping rhodopsins (NaRs) are a unique member of the microbial-type I rhodopsin family which actively transport Na+ and H+ depending on ionic condition. In this study, we surveyed 12 different NaRs from various sources of eubacteria for their electrophysiological as well as spectroscopic properties. In mammalian cells several of these NaRs exhibited a Na+ based pump photocurrent and four interesting candidates were chosen for further characterization. Voltage dependent photocurrent amplitudes revealed a membrane potential-sensitive turnover rate, indicating the presence of an electrically-charged intermediate(s) in the photocycle reaction. The NaR from Salinarimonas rosea DSM21201 exhibited a red-shifted absorption spectrum, and slower kinetics compared to the first described sodium pump, KR2. Although the ratio of Na+ to H+ ion transport varied among the NaRs we tested, the NaRs from Flagellimonas sp_DIK and Nonlabens sp_YIK_SED-11 showed significantly higher Na+ selectivity when compared to KR2. All four further investigated NaRs showed a functional expression in dissociated hippocampal neuron culture and hyperpolarizing activity upon light-stimulation. Additionally, all four NaRs allowed optical inhibition of electrically-evoked neuronal spiking. Although efficiency of silencing was 3-5 times lower than silencing with the enhanced version of the proton pump AR3 from Halorubrum sodomense, our data outlines a new approach for hyperpolarization of excitable cells without affecting the intracellular and extracellular proton environment.
Project description:The light-driven sodium-pumping rhodopsin KR2 from Krokinobacter eikastus is the only non-proton cation active transporter with demonstrated potential for optogenetics. However, the existing structural data on KR2 correspond exclusively to its ground state, and show no sodium inside the protein, which hampers the understanding of sodium-pumping mechanism. Here we present crystal structure of the O-intermediate of the physiologically relevant pentameric form of KR2 at the resolution of 2.1?Å, revealing a sodium ion near the retinal Schiff base, coordinated by N112 and D116 of the characteristic NDQ triad. We also obtained crystal structures of D116N and H30A variants, conducted metadynamics simulations and measured pumping activities of putative pathway mutants to demonstrate that sodium release likely proceeds alongside Q78 towards the structural sodium ion bound between KR2 protomers. Our findings highlight the importance of pentameric assembly for sodium pump function, and may be used for rational engineering of enhanced optogenetic tools.
Project description:Rhodopsins are light-sensing proteins used in optogenetics. The word "rhodopsin" originates from the Greek words "rhodo" and "opsis," indicating rose and sight, respectively. Although the classical meaning of rhodopsin is the red-colored pigment in our eyes, the modern meaning of rhodopsin encompasses photoactive proteins containing a retinal chromophore in animals and microbes. Animal and microbial rhodopsins possess 11-cis and all-trans retinal, respectively, to capture light in seven transmembrane α-helices, and photoisomerizations into all-trans and 13-cis forms, respectively, initiate each function. Ion-transporting proteins can be found in microbial rhodopsins, such as light-gated channels and light-driven pumps, which are the main tools in optogenetics. Light-driven pumps, such as archaeal H(+) pump bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and Cl(-) pump halorhodopsin (HR), were discovered in the 1970s, and their mechanism has been extensively studied. On the other hand, different kinds of H(+) and Cl(-) pumps have been found in marine bacteria, such as proteorhodopsin (PR) and Fulvimarina pelagi rhodopsin (FR), respectively. In addition, a light-driven Na(+) pump was found, Krokinobacter eikastus rhodopsin 2 (KR2). These light-driven ion-pumping microbial rhodopsins are classified as DTD, TSA, DTE, NTQ, and NDQ rhodopsins for BR, HR, PR, FR, and KR2, respectively. Recent understanding of ion-pumping microbial rhodopsins is reviewed in this paper.
Project description:Rhodopsins are the most universal biological light-energy transducers and abundant phototrophic mechanisms that evolved on Earth and have a remarkable diversity and potential for biotechnological applications. Recently, the first sodium-pumping rhodopsin KR2 from Krokinobacter eikastus was discovered and characterized. However, the existing structures of KR2 are contradictory, and the mechanism of Na+ pumping is not yet understood. Here, we present a structure of the cationic (non H+) light-driven pump at physiological pH in its pentameric form. We also present 13 atomic structures and functional data on the KR2 and its mutants, including potassium pumps, which show that oligomerization of the microbial rhodopsin is obligatory for its biological function. The studies reveal the structure of KR2 at nonphysiological low pH where it acts as a proton pump. The structure provides new insights into the mechanisms of microbial rhodopsins and opens the way to a rational design of novel cation pumps for optogenetics.
Project description:A group of microbial retinal proteins most closely related to the proton pump xanthorhodopsin has a novel sequence motif and a novel function. Instead of, or in addition to, proton transport, they perform light-driven sodium ion transport, as reported for one representative of this group (KR2) from Krokinobacter. In this paper, we examine a similar protein, GLR from Gillisia limnaea, expressed in Escherichia coli, which shares some properties with KR2 but transports only Na(+). The absorption spectrum of GLR is insensitive to Na(+) at concentrations of ?3 M. However, very low concentrations of Na(+) cause profound differences in the decay and rise time of photocycle intermediates, consistent with a switch from a "Na(+)-independent" to a "Na(+)-dependent" photocycle (or photocycle branch) at ?60 ?M Na(+). The rates of photocycle steps in the latter, but not the former, are linearly dependent on Na(+) concentration. This suggests that a high-affinity Na(+) binding site is created transiently after photoexcitation, and entry of Na(+) from the bulk to this site redirects the course of events in the remainder of the cycle. A greater concentration of Na(+) is needed for switching the reaction path at lower pH. The data suggest therefore competition between H(+) and Na(+) to determine the two alternative pathways. The idea that a Na(+) binding site can be created at the Schiff base counterion is supported by the finding that upon perturbation of this region in the D251E mutant, Na(+) binds without photoexcitation. Binding of Na(+) to the mutant shifts the chromophore maximum to the red like that of H(+), which occurs in the photocycle of the wild type.
Project description:The conversion of light energy into ion gradients across biological membranes is one of the most fundamental reactions in primary biological energy transduction. Recently, the structure of the first light-activated Na+ pump, Krokinobacter eikastus rhodopsin 2 (KR2), was resolved at atomic resolution [Kato HE, et al. (2015) Nature 521:48-53]. To elucidate its molecular mechanism for Na+ pumping, we perform here extensive classical and quantum molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of transient photocycle states. Our simulations show how the dynamics of key residues regulate water and ion access between the bulk and the buried light-triggered retinal site. We identify putative Na+ binding sites and show how protonation and conformational changes gate the ion through these sites toward the extracellular side. We further show by correlated ab initio quantum chemical calculations that the obtained putative photocycle intermediates are in close agreement with experimental transient optical spectroscopic data. The combined results of the ion translocation and gating mechanisms in KR2 may provide a basis for the rational design of novel light-driven ion pumps with optogenetic applications.
Project description:Light-driven sodium pumps (NaRs) are microbial rhodopsins that utilize light energy to actively transport sodium ions out of the cell. Here, we used targeted mutagenesis and electrophysiological methods in living cells to demonstrate that NaRs can be converted into light-activated cation channels by molecular engineering. Specifically, introduction of the R109Q mutation into the sodium ion pump of Dokdonia eikasta (KR2) results in passive ion conductance, with a high preference for potassium over sodium ions. However, in this mutant, residual active outward pumping of sodium ions competes with passive inward transport of potassium. Channel-like behavior could also be achieved by introduction of other mutations into the KR2 counterion complex, and further, these modifications were transferrable to other NaRs. Combining the R109Q replacement with modifications at position S70 removed the residual sodium pumping and greatly enhanced the channel-like activity. However, passive photocurrents were only observed in leak mutants if the KR2 counterions, D116 and D251, were deprotonated, which was only observed under alkaline conditions. Overall, our results reveal that interactions between R109 and the nearby residues, L75, S70, D116, and D251, prevent passive backflow during ion transport in NaRs.
Project description:Nanodiscs that hold a lipid bilayer surrounded by a boundary of scaffold proteins have emerged as a powerful tool for membrane protein solubilization and analysis. By combining nanodiscs and cell-free expression technologies, even completely detergent-free membrane protein characterization protocols can be designed. Nanodiscs are compatible with various techniques, and due to their bilayer environment and increased stability, they are often superior to detergent micelles or liposomes for membrane protein solubilization. However, transport assays in nanodiscs have not been conducted so far, due to limitations of the two-dimensional nature of nanodisc membranes that offers no compartmentalization. Here, we study Krokinobacter eikastus rhodopsin-2 (KR2), a microbial light-driven sodium or proton pump, with noncovalent mass-spectrometric, electrophysiological, and flash photolysis measurements after its cotranslational insertion into nanodiscs. We demonstrate the feasibility of adsorbing nanodiscs containing KR2 to an artificial bilayer. This allows us to record light-induced capacitive currents that reflect KR2's ion transport activity. The solid-supported membrane assay with nanodisc samples provides reliable control over the ionic condition and information of the relative ion activity of this promiscuous pump. Our strategy is complemented with flash photolysis data, where the lifetimes of different photointermediates were determined at different ionic conditions. The advantage of using identical samples to three complementary approaches allows for a comprehensive comparability. The cell-free synthesis in combination with nanodiscs provides a defined hydrophobic lipid environment minimizing the detergent dependence often seen in assays with membrane proteins. KR2 is a promising tool for optogenetics, thus directed engineering to modify ion selectivity can be highly beneficial. Our approach, using the fast generation of functional ion pumps incorporated into nanodiscs and their subsequent analysis by several biophysical techniques, can serve as a versatile screening and engineering platform. This may open new avenues for the study of ion pumps and similar electrogenic targets.
Project description:In addition to the well-known light-driven outward proton pumps, novel ion-pumping rhodopsins functioning as outward Na(+) and inward Cl(-) pumps have been recently found in eubacteria. They convert light energy into transmembrane electrochemical potential difference, similar to the prototypical archaeal H(+) pump bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and Cl(-) pump halorhodopsin (HR). The H(+), Na(+), and Cl(-) pumps possess the conserved respective DTE, NDQ, and NTQ motifs in the helix C, which likely serve as their functional determinants. To verify this hypothesis, we attempted functional interconversion between selected pumps from each category by mutagenesis. Introduction of the proton-pumping motif resulted in successful Na(+) ? H(+) functional conversion. Introduction of the respective characteristic motifs with several additional mutations leads to successful Na(+) ? Cl(-) and Cl(-) ? H(+) functional conversions, whereas remaining conversions (H(+) ? Na(+), H(+) ? Cl(-), Cl(-) ? Na(+)) were unsuccessful when mutagenesis of 4-6 residues was used. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that a H(+) pump is the common ancestor of all of these rhodopsins, from which Cl(-) pumps emerged followed by Na(+) pumps. We propose that successful functional conversions of these ion pumps are achieved exclusively when mutagenesis reverses the evolutionary amino acid sequence changes. Dependence of the observed functional conversions on the direction of evolution strongly suggests that the essential structural mechanism of an ancestral function is retained even after the gain of a new function during natural evolution, which can be evoked by a few mutations. By contrast, the gain of a new function needs accumulation of multiple mutations, which may not be easily reproduced by limited mutagenesis in vitro.