Hijacking of internal calcium dynamics by intracellularly residing viral rhodopsins


Eria-Oliveira AS, Folacci M, Chassot AA, Fedou S, Thézé N, Zabelskii D, Alekseev A, Bamberg E, Gordeliy V, Sandoz G, Vivaudou M


Nature Communications


Nat Commun. 2024 Jan 2;15(1):65.


Rhodopsins are ubiquitous light-driven membrane proteins with diverse functions, including ion transport. Widely distributed, they are also coded in the genomes of giant viruses infecting phytoplankton where their function is not settled. Here, we examine the properties of OLPVR1 (Organic Lake Phycodnavirus Rhodopsin) and two other type 1 viral channelrhodopsins (VCR1s), and demonstrate that VCR1s accumulate exclusively intracellularly, and, upon illumination, induce calcium release from intracellular IP3-dependent stores. In vivo, this light-induced calcium release is sufficient to remote control muscle contraction in VCR1-expressing tadpoles. VCR1s natively confer light-induced Ca2+ release, suggesting a distinct mechanism for reshaping the response to light of virus-infected algae. The ability of VCR1s to photorelease calcium without altering plasma membrane electrical properties marks them as potential precursors for optogenetics tools, with potential applications in basic research and medicine.


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