pharaonis phoborhodopsin (ppR; also called pharaonis sensory rhodopsin II, psR-II) is a photoreceptor protein for negative phototaxis in Natronomonas pharaonis. Photoisomerization of the retinal chromophore from all-trans to 13-cis initiates conformational changes of the protein leading to activation of the cognate transducer protein (pHtrII). Elucidation of the initial photoreaction, formation of the K intermediate of ppR, is important for understanding the mechanism of storage of photon energy. We have reported the K minus ppR Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra, including several vibrational bands of the retinal, the protein, and internal water molecules. It is interesting that more vibrational bands were observed in the hydrogen-out-of-plane (HOOP) region than for the light-driven proton pump, bacteriorhodopsin. This result implied that the steric constraints on the retinal chromophore in the binding pocket of ppR are distributed more widely upon formation of the initial intermediate. In this study, we assigned the HOOP and hydrogen-in-plane vibrations by means of low-temperature FTIR spectroscopy applied to ppR reconstituted with retinal deuterated at C7, C8, C10-C12, C14, and C15. As a result, the 966 (+)/ 971 (-) and 958 (+)/961 (-) cm-1 bands were assigned to the C7=C8 and C11=C12 Au HOOP modes, respectively, suggesting that the structural changes spread to the middle part of the retinal. The positive bands at 1001, 994, 987, and 979 cm-1 were assigned to the C15-HOOP vibrations of the K intermediate, whose frequencies are similar to those of the KL intermediate of bacteriorhodopsin trapped at 135 K. Another positive band at 864 cm-1 was assigned to the C14-HOOP vibration. Relatively many positive bands of hydrogen-in-plane vibrations supported the wide distribution of structural changes of the retinal as well. These results imply that the light energy was stored mainly in the distortions around the Schiff base region while some part of the energy was transferred to the distal part of the retinal.
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