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Interconnection of the Antenna Pigment 8‑HDF and Flavin Facilitates Red-Light Reception in a Bifunctional Animal-like Cryptochrome


Cryptochromes are ubiquitous flavin-binding light sensors closely related to DNA-repairing photolyases. The animal-like cryptochrome CraCRY from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii challenges the paradigm of cryptochromes as pure blue-light receptors by acting as a (6-4) photolyase, using 8-hydroxy-5-deazaflavin (8-HDF) as a light-harvesting antenna with a 17.4 Å distance to flavin and showing spectral sensitivity up to 680 nm. The expanded action spectrum is attributed to the presence of the flavin neutral radical (FADH) in the dark, despite a rapid FADH decay observed in vitro in samples exclusively carrying flavin. Herein, the red-light response of CraCRY carrying flavin and 8-HDF was studied, revealing a 3-fold prolongation of the FADH lifetime in the presence of 8-HDF. Millisecond time-resolved ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy showed the red-light-induced formation and decay of an absorbance band at 458 nm concomitant with flavin reduction. Time-resolved Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and density functional theory attributed these changes to the deprotonation of 8-HDF, challenging the paradigm of 8-HDF being permanently deprotonated in photolyases. FTIR spectra showed changes in the hydrogen bonding network of asparagine 395, a residue suggested to indirectly control flavin protonation, indicating the involvement of N395 in the stabilization of FADH. Fluorescence spectroscopy revealed a decrease in the energy transfer efficiency of 8-HDF upon flavin reduction, possibly linked to 8-HDF deprotonation. The discovery of the interdependence of flavin and 8-HDF beyond energy transfer processes highlights the essential role of the antenna, introducing a new concept enabling CraCRY and possibly other bifunctional cryptochromes to fulfill their dual function.

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