Redshift of the purple membrane absorption band and the deprotonation of tyrosine residues at high pH: Origin of the parallel photocycles of trans-bacteriorhodopsin.

Biophysical journal

PubMedID: 19431801

Balashov SP, Govindjee R, Ebrey TG. Redshift of the purple membrane absorption band and the deprotonation of tyrosine residues at high pH: Origin of the parallel photocycles of trans-bacteriorhodopsin. Biophys J. 1991;60(2):475-90.
At high pH (> 8) the 570 nm absorption band of all-trans bacteriorhodopsin (bR) in purple membrane undergoes a small (1.5 nm) shift to longer wavelengths, which causes a maximal increase in absorption at 615 nm. The pK of the shift is 9.0 in the presence of 167 mM KCl, and its intrinsic pK is approximately 8.3. The red shift of the trans-bR absorption spectrum correlates with the appearance of the fast component in the light-induced L to M transition, and absorption increases at 238 and 297 nm which are apparently caused by the deprotonation of a tyrosine residue and red shift of the absorption of tryptophan residues. This suggests that the deprotonation of a tyrosine residue with an exceptionally low pK (pK(a) approximately 8.3) is responsible for the absorption shift of the chromophore band and fast M formation. The pH and salt dependent equilibrium between the two forms of bR, "neutral" and "alkaline," bR <--> bR(a), results in two parallel photocycles of trans-bR at high pH, differing in the rate of the L to M transition. In the pH range 10-11.8 deprotonation of two more tyrosine residues is observed with pK's approximately 10.3 and 11.3 (in 167 mM KCL). Two simple models discussing the role of the pH induced tyrosine deprotonation in the photocycle and proton pumping are presented.It is suggested that the shifts of the absorption bands at high pH are due to the appearance of a negatively charged group inside the protein (tyrosinate) which causes electrochromic shifts of the chromophore and protein absorption bands due to the interaction with the dipole moments in the ground and excited states of bR (Stark effect). This effect gives evidence for a significant change in the dipole moment of the chromophore of bR upon excitation.Under illumination alkaline bR forms, besides the usual photocycle intermediates, a long-lived species with absorption maximum at 500 nm (P500). P500 slowly converts into bR(a) in the dark. Upon illumination P500 is transformed into an intermediate having an absorption maximum at 380 nm (P380). P380 can be reconverted to P500 by blue light illumination or by incubation in the dark.