Reversible Control of Protein Function with Light

  • Author: ChemBioChem
  • Published Date: 14 October 2018
  • Source / Publisher: ChemBioChem/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: Reversible Control of Protein Function with Light

Related Societies

The reversible switching of protein function with light could be a valuable tool to control enzymatic activity and biological processes in a non-invasive way. Alexander Deiters, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, and colleagues have genetically encoded azobenzene amino acids (pictured) in human cells which can be used for such a light-based switching.

When the azobenzene compounds are exposed to light, they switch between their cis- and their trans-form. This changes their structure significantly. If the azobenzene amino acids are genetically encoded into a specific protein, this can be used to control the protein's function. The photochemical properties of the azobenzene amino acids can be tuned by varying their substituents to provide enhanced thermal stability, high photoconversion, and responsiveness to visible light.

As a proof-of-principle, the team used computational strategies to find potential photoswitchable sites in a luciferase enzyme. These enzymes are responsible for the bioluminescence of fireflies. The team successfully created a luciferase that could be reversibly switched on and off using light of different wavelengths. This approach could serve as a versatile system for the light‐regulation of protein function in cells and animals.


Article Views: 1287

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

Bookmark and Share

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from, please contact us first for permission. more

CONNECT: on Facebook on Twitter on YouTube on LinkedIn Sign up for our free newsletter

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)published by Wiley-VCH