The photoreactive protein rhodopsin is widespread in microorganisms and has a variety of photobiological functions. Recently, a novel phylogenetically distinctive group named ‘schizorhodopsin (SzR)’ has been identified as an inward proton pump. We performed functional and spectroscopic studies on an uncharacterised schizorhodopsin from the phylum Lokiarchaeota archaeon. The protein, LaSzR2, having an all-trans-retinal chromophore, showed inward proton pump activity with an absorption maximum at 549 nm. The pH titration experiments revealed that the protonated Schiff base of the retinal chromophore (Lys188, pKa = 12.3) is stabilised by the deprotonated counterion (presumably Asp184, pKa = 3.7). The flash-photolysis experiments revealed the presence of two photointermediates, K and M. A proton was released and uptaken from bulk solution upon the formation and decay of the M intermediate. During the M-decay, the Schiff base was reprotonated by the proton from a proton donating residue (presumably Asp172). These properties were compared with other inward (SzRs and xenorhodopsins, XeRs) and outward proton pumps. Notably, LaSzR2 showed acid-induced spectral ‘blue-shift’ due to the protonation of the counterion, whereas outward proton pumps showed opposite shifts (red-shifts). Thus, we can distinguish between inward and outward proton pumps by the direction of the acid-induced spectral shift.
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