Pharaonis phoborhodopsin (ppR), also called pharaonis sensory rhodopsin II, NpSRII, is a photoreceptor of negative phototaxis in Natronomonas (Natronobacterium) pharaonis. The photocycle rate of ppR is slow compared to that of bacteriorhodopsin, despite the similarity in their x-ray structures. The decreased rate of the photocycle of ppR is a result of the longer lifetime of later photo-intermediates such as M- (ppRM) and O-intermediates (ppRO). In this study, mutants were prepared in which mutated residues were located on the extracellular surface (P182, P183, and V194) and near the Schiff base (T204) including single, triple (P182S/P183E/V194T), and quadruple mutants. The decay of ppRO of the triple mutant was accelerated ∼20-times from 690 ms for the wild-type to 36 ms. Additional mutation resulting in a triple mutant at the 204th position such as T204C or T204S further decreased the decay half-time to 6.6 or 8 ms, almost equal to that of bacteriorhodopsin. The decay half-times of the ppRO of mutants (11 species) and those of the wild-type were well-correlated with the pK a value of Asp-75 in the dark for the respective mutants as spectroscopically estimated, although there are some exceptions. The implications of these observations are discussed in detail.
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