The blue-light photoreceptor photoactive yellow protein (PYP) undergoes a self-contained light cycle. The atomic structure of the bleached signaling intermediate in the light cycle of PYP was determined by millisecond time- resolved, multiwavelength Laue crystallography and simultaneous optical spectroscopy. Light-induced trans-to-cis isomerization of the 4- hydroxycinnamyl chromophore and coupled protein rearrangements produce a new set of active-site hydrogen bonds. An arginine gateway opens, allowing solvent exposure and protonation of the chromophore's phenolic oxygen. Resulting changes in shape, hydrogen bonding, and electrostatic potential at the protein surface form a likely basis for signal transduction. The structural results suggest a general framework for the interpretation of protein photocycles.
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