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Platymonas subcordiformis Channelrhodopsin-2 (PsChR2) Function: II. RELATIONSHIP OF THE PHOTOCHEMICAL REACTION CYCLE TO CHANNEL CURRENTS.


Channelrhodopsins, such as the algal phototaxis receptor Platymonas subcordiformis channelrhodopsin-2 (PsChR2), are light-gated cation channels used as optogenetic tools for photocontrol of membrane potential in living cells. Channelrhodopsin (ChR)-mediated photocurrent responses are complex and poorly understood, exhibiting alterations in peak current amplitude, extents and kinetics of inactivation, and kinetics of the recovery of the prestimulus dark current that are sensitive to duration and frequency of photostimuli. From the analysis of time-resolved optical absorption data, presented in the accompanying article, we derived a two-cycle model that describes the photocycles of PsChR2. Here, we applied the model to evaluate the transient currents produced by PsChR2 expressed in HEK293 cells under both fast laser excitation and step-like continuous illumination. Interpretation of the photocurrents in terms of the photocycle kinetics indicates that the O states in both cycles are responsible for the channel current and fit the current transients under the different illumination regimes. The peak and plateau currents in response to a single light step, a train of light pulses, and a light step superimposed on a continuous light background observed for ChR2 proteins are explained in terms of contributions from the two parallel photocycles. The analysis shows that the peak current desensitization and recovery phenomena are inherent properties of the photocycles. The light dependence of desensitization is reproduced and explained by the time evolution of the concentration transients in response to step-like illumination. Our data show that photocycle kinetic parameters are sufficient to explain the complex dependence of photocurrent responses to photostimuli.

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