The Light-Oxygen-Voltage domain family of proteins is widespread in biology where they impart sensory responses to signal transduction domains. The small, light responsive LOV modules offer a novel platform for the construction of optogenetic tools. Currently, the design and implementation of these devices is partially hindered by a lack of understanding of how light drives allosteric changes in protein conformation to activate diverse signal transduction domains. Further, divergent photocycle properties amongst LOV family members complicate construction of highly sensitive devices with fast on/off kinetics. In the present review we discuss the history of LOV domain research with primary emphasis on tuning LOV domain chemistry and signal transduction to allow for improved optogenetic tools.
Keywords: LOV domain; optogenetics; photobiology; photosensors; protein engineering.