Replacement effects of neutral amino acid residues of different molecular volumes in the retinal binding cavity of bacteriorhodopsin on the dynamics of its primary process

Biophys J. 1996 Jun;70(6):2875-81. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(96)79857-0.


We have determined the rate and quantum yield of retinal photoisomerization, the spectra of the primary transients, and the energy stored in the K intermediate in the photocycle of some bacteriorhodopsin mutants (V49A, A53G, and W182F) in which residue replacements are found to change the Schiff base deprotonation kinetics (and thus the protein-retinal interaction). Because of their change in the local volume resulting from these individual replacements, these substitutions perturb the proton donor-acceptor relative orientation change and thus the Schiff base deprotonation kinetics. These replacements are thus expected to change the charge distribution around the retinal, which controls its photoisomerization dynamics. Subpicosecond transient spectroscopy as well as photoacoustic technique are used to determine the retinal photoisomerization rate, quantum yield, and the energy stored in the K-intermediate for these mutants. The results are compared with those obtained for wild-type bacteriorhodopsin and other mutants in which charged residues in the cavity are replaced by neutral ones. In some of the mutants the rate of photoisomerization is changed, but in none is the quantum yield or the energy stored in the K intermediate altered from that in the wild type. These results are discussed in terms of the shapes of the potential energy surfaces of the excited and ground states of retinal in the perpendicular configuration within the protein and the stabilization of the positive charge in the ground and the excited state of the electronic system of retinal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriorhodopsins / genetics
  • Bacteriorhodopsins / metabolism*
  • Bacteriorhodopsins / radiation effects
  • Binding Sites
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Halobacterium salinarum / genetics
  • Halobacterium salinarum / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Photochemistry
  • Quantum Theory
  • Retinaldehyde / metabolism*
  • Schiff Bases / chemistry


  • Schiff Bases
  • Bacteriorhodopsins
  • Retinaldehyde