DFT/MM Description of Flavin IR Spectra in BLUF Domains

A class of photoreceptors occurring in various organisms consists of domains that are blue light sensing using flavin (BLUF). The vibrational spectra of the flavin chromophore are spectroscopically well characterized for the darkadapted resting states and for the light-adapted signaling states of BLUF domains in solution. Here we present a theoretical analysis of such spectra by applying density functional theory (DFT) to the flavin embedded in molecular mechanics (MM) models of its protein and solvent environment. By DFT/MM we calculate flavin spectra for seven different X-ray and NMR structures of BLUF domains occurring in the transcriptional antirepressor AppA and in the blue light receptor B (BlrB) of the purple bacterium Rb. Sphaeroides as well as in the phototaxis photoreceptor Slr1694 of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis. By considering the dynamical stabilities of associated all-atom simulation models and by comparing calculated with observed vibrational spectra, we show that two of the considered structures (both AppA) are obviously erroneous and that specific features of two further crystal structures (BlrB and Slr1694) cannot represent the states of the respective BLUF domains in solution. Thereby, the conformational transitions elicited by solvation are identified... Read more...
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