Photoreactions of the Histidine Kinase Rhodopsin Ot-HKR from the Marine Picoalga Ostreococcus tauri

Biochemistry. 2019 Apr 9;58(14):1878-1891. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01200. Epub 2019 Mar 21.


The tiny picoalga, Ostreococcus tauri, originating from the Thau Lagoon is a member of the marine phytoplankton. Because of its highly reduced genome and small cell size, while retaining the fundamental requirements of a eukaryotic photosynthetic cell, it became a popular model organism for studying photosynthesis or circadian clock-related processes. We analyzed the spectroscopic properties of the photoreceptor domain of the histidine kinase rhodopsin Ot-HKR that is suggested to be involved in the light-induced entrainment of the Ostreococcus circadian clock. We found that the rhodopsin, Ot-Rh, dark state absorbs maximally at 505 nm. Exposure to green-orange light led to the accumulation of a blue-shifted M-state-like absorbance form with a deprotonated Schiff base. This Ot-Rh P400 state had an unusually long lifetime of several minutes. A second long-living photoproduct with a red-shifted absorbance, P560, accumulated upon illumination with blue/UVA light. The resulting photochromicity of the rhodopsin is expected to be advantageous to its function as a molecular control element of the signal transducing HKR domains. The light intensity and the ratio of blue vs green light are reflected by the ratio of rhodopsin molecules in the long-living absorbance forms. Furthermore, dark-state absorbance and the photocycle kinetics vary with the salt content of the environment substantially. This observation is attributed to anion binding in the dark state and a transient anion release during the photocycle, indicating that the salinity affects the photoinduced processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / genetics
  • Algal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chlorophyta / genetics
  • Chlorophyta / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyta / radiation effects
  • Circadian Clocks / radiation effects
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 1 / genetics
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Histidine Kinase / genetics
  • Histidine Kinase / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Light
  • Rhodopsin / genetics
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism*
  • Salinity
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared


  • Algal Proteins
  • Rhodopsin
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 1
  • Histidine Kinase