Tuning flavin environment to detect and control light-induced conformational switching in Drosophila cryptochrome.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Commun Biol, Volume 4, Issue 1, p.249 (2021)


<p>Light-induction of an anionic semiquinone (SQ) flavin radical in Drosophila cryptochrome (dCRY) alters the dCRY conformation to promote binding and degradation of the circadian clock protein Timeless (TIM). Specific peptide ligation with sortase A attaches a nitroxide spin-probe to the dCRY C-terminal tail (CTT) while avoiding deleterious side reactions. Pulse dipolar electron-spin resonance spectroscopy from the CTT nitroxide to the SQ shows that flavin photoreduction shifts the CTT ~1&thinsp;nm and increases its motion, without causing full displacement from the protein. dCRY engineered to form the neutral SQ serves as a dark-state proxy to reveal that the CTT remains docked when the flavin ring is reduced but uncharged. Substitutions of flavin-proximal His378 promote CTT undocking in the dark or diminish undocking in the light, consistent with molecular dynamics simulations and TIM degradation activity. The His378 variants inform on recognition motifs for dCRY cellular turnover and strategies for developing optogenetic tools.</p>