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Proton-transporting heliorhodopsins from marine giant viruses


Kandori, Hideki (2022), Proton-transporting heliorhodopsins from marine giant viruses, Dryad, Dataset,


Rhodopsins convert light into signals and energy in animals and microbes. Heliorhodopsins (HeRs), a recently discovered new rhodopsin family, are widely present in archaea, bacteria, unicellular eukaryotes, and giant viruses, but their function remains unknown. Here we report that a viral HeR from Emiliania huxleyi virus 202 (V2HeR3) is a light-activated proton transporter. V2HeR3 absorbs blue-green light, and the active intermediate contains the deprotonated retinal Schiff base. Site-directed mutagenesis study revealed that E191 in TM6 constitutes the gate together with the retinal Schiff base. E205 and E215 form a proton accepting group of the Schiff base, whose mutations converted the protein into an outward proton pump. Three environmental viral HeRs from the same group, as well as a more distantly related HeR exhibited similar proton-transport activity, indicating that HeR functions might be diverse similarly to type-1 microbial rhodopsins. Some strains of E. huxleyi contain one HeR that is related to the viral HeRs, while its viruses EhV-201 and EhV-202 contain two and three HeRs, respectively. Except for V2HeR3 from EhV-202, none of these proteins exhibit ion-transport activity. Thus, when expressed in the E. huxleyi cell membranes, only V2HeR3 has the potential to depolarize the host cells by light, possibly to overcome the host defense mechanisms or to prevent superinfection. The neuronal activity generated by V2HeR3 suggests that it can potentially be used as an optogenetic tools, like type-1 microbial rhodopsins.