Photochemical characterization of actinorhodopsin and its functional existence in the natural host

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Dec;1857(12):1900-1908. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2016.09.006. Epub 2016 Sep 20.


Actinorhodopsin (ActR) is a light-driven outward H+ pump. Although the genes of ActRs are widely spread among freshwater bacterioplankton, there are no prior data on their functional expression in native cell membranes. Here, we demonstrate ActR phototrophy in the native actinobacterium. Genome analysis showed that Candidatus Rhodoluna planktonica, a freshwater actinobacterium, encodes one microbial rhodopsin (RpActR) belonging to the ActR family. Reflecting the functional expression of RpActR, illumination induced the acidification of the actinobacterial cell suspension and then elevated the ATP content inside the cells. The photochemistry of RpActR was also examined using heterologously expressed RpActR in Escherichia coli membranes. The purified RpActR showed λmax at 534nm and underwent a photocycle characterized by the very fast formation of M intermediate. The subsequent intermediate, named P620, could be assigned to the O intermediate in other H+ pumps. In contrast to conventional O, the accumulation of P620 remains prominent, even at high pH. Flash-induced absorbance changes suggested that there exists only one kind of photocycle at any pH. However, above pH7, RpActR shows heterogeneity in the H+ transfer sequences: one first captures H+ and then releases it during the formation and decay of P620, while the other first releases H+ prior to H+ uptake during P620 formation.

Keywords: Actinorhodopsin; Flash photolysis; Light-driven proton pump; Microbial rhodopsin; Photocycle; Phototrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / genetics
  • Actinobacteria / metabolism
  • Actinobacteria / radiation effects*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / radiation effects*
  • Energy Transfer
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kinetics
  • Light*
  • Photolysis
  • Phototrophic Processes / radiation effects*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protons
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial / chemistry
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial / genetics
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial / metabolism
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial / radiation effects*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Protons
  • Rhodopsins, Microbial
  • Adenosine Triphosphate