The Photolyase/Cryptochrome Family of Proteins as DNA Repair Enzymes and Transcriptional Repressors

Photochem Photobiol. 2017 Jan;93(1):93-103. doi: 10.1111/php.12669. Epub 2017 Jan 9.


Light is a very important environmental factor that governs many cellular responses in organisms. As a consequence, organisms possess different kinds of light-sensing photoreceptors to regulate their physiological variables and adapt to a given habitat. The cryptochrome/photolyase family (CPF) includes photoreceptors that perform different functions in different organisms. Photolyases repair ultraviolet-induced DNA damage by a process known as photoreactivation using photons absorbed from the blue end of the light spectrum. On the other hand, cryptochromes act as blue light circadian photoreceptors in plants and Drosophila to regulate growth and development. In mammals, cryptochromes have light-independent functions and are very important transcriptional regulators that act at the molecular level as negative transcriptional regulators of the circadian clock. In this review, we highlight current knowledge concerning the structural and functional relationships of CPF members.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cryptochromes / metabolism*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • DNA Repair*
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / chemistry
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / metabolism*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase