CryoRhodopsins: a comprehensive characterization of a new clade of microbial rhodopsins from cold environments


Lamm GHU, Marin E, Schellbach AV, Stetsenko A, Alekseev A, Bourenkov G, Borshchevskiy V, Asido M, Agthe M, Engilberge S, Rose SL, Caramello N, Royant A, Schneider TR, Bateman A, Mager T, Moser T, Wachtveitl J, Guskov A, Kovalev K




bioRxiv 2024.01.15.575777.


Microbial rhodopsins are omnipresent on Earth, however the vast majority of them remain uncharacterized. Here we describe a new rhodopsin clade from cold-adapted organisms and cold environments, such as glaciers, denoted as CryoRhodopsins (CryoRs). Our data suggest that CryoRs have photosensory activity. A distinguishing feature of the clade is the presence of a buried arginine residue close to the cytoplasmic face of its members. Combining single-particle cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography with the rhodopsin activation by light, we demonstrate that the arginine stabilizes a strongly blue-shifted intermediate of an extremely slow CryoRhodopsin photocycle. Together with extensive spectroscopic characterization, our investigations on CryoR1 and CryoR2 proteins reveal mechanisms of photoswitching in the newly identified clade and demonstrate principles of the adaptation of these rhodopsins to low temperatures.