Phototropin, a blue-light receptor protein of plants, triggers phototropic responses, chloroplast relocation, and opening of stomata to maximize the efficiency of photosynthesis. Phototropin is composed of two light-oxygen-voltage sensing domains (LOV1 and LOV2) that absorb blue light and a serine/theroine kinase domain responsible for light-dependent autophosphorylation leading to cellular signaling cascades. Although the light-activated LOV2 domain is primarily responsible for subsequent activation of the kinase domain, it is unclear how conformational changes in the former transmit to the latter. To understand this molecular mechanism in Arabidopsis phototropin 2, we performed small-angle X-ray scattering analysis on a fragment composed of the LOV2 and kinase domains, which contained an Asp720Asn mutation that led to an absence of ATP binding activity. The scattering data were collected up to a resolution of 25 Å. The apparent molecular weight of the fragment estimated from scattering intensities demonstrated that the fragment existed in a monomeric form in solution. The fragment exhibited photoreversible changes in the scattering profiles, and the radii of gyration under dark and blue-light irradiation conditions were 32.4 and 34.8 Å, respectively. In the dark, the molecular shape restored from the scattering profile appeared as an elongated shape of 110 Å in length and 45 Å in width. The homology modeled LOV2 and kinase domains could be fitted to the molecular shape and appeared to make slight contact. However, under blue-light irradiation, a more extended molecular shape was observed. The changes in the molecular shape and radius of gyration were interpreted as a light-dependent positional shift of the LOV2 domain of approximately 13 Å from the kinase domain. Because the region connecting the LOV2 and kinase domains was categorized as a naturally unfolded polypeptide, we propose that the light-activated LOV2 domain triggers conformational changes in the linker region to separate the LOV2 and kinase domains.
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