Signaling mechanisms of LOV domains: New insights from molecular dynamics studies

Peter L. Freddolino, Kevin H. Gardner, Klaus Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Phototropins are one of several classes of photoreceptors used by plants and algae to respond to light. These proteins contain flavin-binding LOV (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domains that form covalent cysteine-flavin adducts upon exposure to blue light, leading to the enhancement of phototropin kinase activity. Several lines of evidence suggest that adduct formation in the phototropin LOV2 domains leads to the dissociation of an alpha helix (Jα) from these domains as part of the light-induced activation process. However, crystal structures of LOV domains both in the presence and absence of the Jα helix show very few differences between dark and illuminated states, and thus the precise mechanism through which adduct formation triggers helical dissociation remains poorly understood. Using Avena sativa phototropin 1 LOV2 as a model system, we have studied the interactions of the LOV domain core with the Jα helix through a series of equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations. Here we show that conformational transitions of a conserved glutamine residue in the flavin binding pocket are coupled to altered dynamics of the Jα helix both through a shift in dynamics of the main β-sheet of the LOV domain core and through a secondary pathway involving the N-terminal A′α helix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1158-1170
Number of pages13
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 18 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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