Highlights of our Work
made using VMD
Most forms of life need to detect and respond to changes in their environment for survival and optimal growth. For this purpose organisms rely on receptors that are based on sensory proteins. In plants, several sensory proteins detect the ambient light for optimal exposure of their photosynthetic apparatus. One class of plant light sensors, the phototropins, influence photosynthesis and induce the transition between root and stem growth when seedlings emerge out of the ground. Induction is activated through several protein domains, two of which actually absorb light and for their sensitivity to light, oxygen, and voltage, are called LOV1 and LOV2 domains. Understanding the LOV domains' involvement in activation is important for studying the signaling mechanisms of other types of sensory proteins. Strangely, light absorbed by LOV domains is observed to lead to a distinct, but only very minute, structural change that does not explain how activation might come about. NAMD-based molecular dynamics simulations of the LOV domain have now revealed, as reported in a recent publication, that photoactivated LOV domains exhibit altered patterns of motion that can induce a signal for plant cells. More information may be found on our biological photoreceptors website.