Publications

Submitted
Kaufmann J, Krause B, Adam S, Ritter E, Schapiro I, Hegemann P, Bartl F. Modulation of light energy transfer from chromophore to protein in the channelrhodopsin ReaChR. Biophysical Journal [Internet]. Submitted. In Press, Journal Pre-proofAbstract
The function of photoreceptors relies on efficient transfer of absorbed light energy from the chromophore to the protein in order to drive conformational changes that ultimately generate an output signal. In retinal binding proteins, mainly two mechanisms exist to store the photon energy after photoisomerization: (1) conformational distortion of the prosthetic group retinal, and (2) charge separation between the protonated retinal Schiff base (RSBH+) and its counter-ion complex. Accordingly, energy transfer to the protein is achieved by chromophore relaxation and/ or reduction of the charge separation in the RSBH+-counter-ion complex. Combining FTIR and UV-Vis spectroscopy along with molecular dynamics simulations, we show here for the widely used red-activatable Volvox carteri channelrhodopsin-1 derivate ReaChR that energy storage and transfer into the protein depends on the protonation state of glutamic acid E163 (Ci1), one of the counter-ions of the RSBH+. Ci1 retains a pKa of 7.6, so that both its protonated and deprotonated forms equilibrate at physiological conditions. Protonation of Ci1 leads to a rigid hydrogen-bonding network in the active-site region. This stabilizes the distorted conformation of the retinal after photoactivation and decelerates energy transfer into the protein by impairing release of the strain energy. In contrast, with deprotonated Ci1 or removal of the Ci1 glutamate side chain, the hydrogen-bonded system is less rigid and energy transfer by chromophore relaxation is accelerated. Based on the hydrogen out-of-plane (HOOP) band decay kinetics, we determined the activation energy for these processes in dependence of the Ci1 protonation state.
2020
Slavov C, Fischer T, Barnoy A, Shin H, Rao AG, Wiebeler C, Zeng X, Sun Y, Xu Q, Gutt A, et al. The interplay between chromophore and protein determines the extended excited state dynamics in a single-domain phytochrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2020 :201921706. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bilin-binding photoreceptors are light-signaling proteins that mediate various processes from photomorphogenesis, phototaxis, chromatic acclimation, to photosynthesis. They are also promising tunable optical agents for use in optogenetics and superresolution microscopy. Using an integrated approach of crystallography, spectroscopy, and QM/MM calculations, this work examines the ultrafast dynamics of a photoactive single-domain phytochrome. Our work reveals in detail the critical role of the protein environment in defining the excited state lifetime and thereby the quantum efficiency of the bilin photoisomerization. This insight provides design principles for engineering of bilin-based photoreceptors for biotechnological and medical applications.Phytochromes are a diverse family of bilin-binding photoreceptors that regulate a wide range of physiological processes. Their photochemical properties make them attractive for applications in optogenetics and superresolution microscopy. Phytochromes undergo reversible photoconversion triggered by the Z ⇄ E photoisomerization about the double bond in the bilin chromophore. However, it is not fully understood at the molecular level how the protein framework facilitates the complex photoisomerization dynamics. We have studied a single-domain bilin-binding photoreceptor All2699g1 (Nostoc sp. PCC 7120) that exhibits photoconversion between the red light-absorbing (Pr) and far red-absorbing (Pfr) states just like canonical phytochromes. We present the crystal structure and examine the photoisomerization mechanism of the Pr form as well as the formation of the primary photoproduct Lumi-R using time-resolved spectroscopy and hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations. We show that the unusually long excited state lifetime (broad lifetime distribution centered at ∼300 picoseconds) is due to the interactions between the isomerizing pyrrole ring D and an adjacent conserved Tyr142. The decay kinetics shows a strongly distributed character which is imposed by the nonexponential protein dynamics. Our findings offer a mechanistic insight into how the quantum efficiency of the bilin photoisomerization is tuned by the protein environment, thereby providing a structural framework for engineering bilin-based optical agents for imaging and optogenetics applications.
Lazorski MS, Schapiro I, Gaddie RS, Lehnig AP, Atanasov M, Neese F, Steiner UE, Elliott CM. Spin-chemical effects on intramolecular photoinduced charge transfer reactions in bisphenanthroline copper(i)-viologen dyad assemblies. Chemical Science [Internet]. 2020;11 (21) :5511 - 5525. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Two covalently linked donor–acceptor copper phenanthroline complexes (C–A dyads) of interest for solar energy conversion/storage schemes, [Cu(i)(Rphen(OMV)24+)2]9+ = RC+A48+ with RC+ = [Cu(i)Rphen2]+ involving 2,9-methyl (R = Me) or 2,9-phenyl (R = Ph)-phenanthroline ligands that are 5,6-disubstituted by 4-(n-butoxy) linked methylviologen electron acceptor groups (A2+ = OMV2+), have been synthesized and investigated via quantum chemical calculations and nanosecond laser flash spectroscopy in 1,2-difluorobenzene/methanol (dfb/MeOH) mixtures. Upon photoexcitation, charge transfer (CT) states RC2+A+A36+ are formed in less than one ns and decay by charge recombination on a time scale of 6–45 ns. The CT lifetime of RC2+A+A36+ has a strong dependence on MeOH solvent fraction when R = Me, but is unaffected if R = Ph. This solvent effect is due to coordination of MeOH solvent in MeC+A48+ (i.e. exciplex formation) allowed by conformational flattening of the ligand sphere, which cannot occur in PhC+A48+ having bulkier Phphen ligand framework. Interestingly, the decay time of the CT state increases for both species at low magnetic fields with a maximum increase of ca. 30% at ca. 150 mT, then decreases as the field is increased up to 1500 mT, the highest field investigated. This magnetic field effect (MFE) is due to magnetic modulation of the spin dynamics interconverting 3CT and 1CT states. A quantitative modeling according to the radical pair mechanism involving ab initio multireference calculations of the complexes revealed that the spin process is dominated by the effect of Cu hyperfine coupling. The external magnetic field suppresses the hyperfine coupling induced spin state mixing thereby lengthening the CT decay time. This effect is counteracted by the field dependent processes of T0–S mixing through the Δg-mechanism and by a local mode spin–orbit mechanism. Further, the maximum MFE is limited by a finite rate of direct recombination of 3CT states and the spin-rotational mechanism of spin relaxation. This study provides a first comprehensive characterization of Cu(ii)-complex spin chemistry and highlights how spin chemistry can be used to manipulate solar energy harvesting and storage materials.
Aquilante F, Autschbach J, Baiardi A, Battaglia S, Borin VA, Chibotaru LF, Conti I, De Vico L, Delcey M, Fdez. Galván I, et al. Modern quantum chemistry with [Open]Molcas. The Journal of Chemical Physics [Internet]. 2020;152 (21) :214117. Publisher's Version
Skopintsev P, Ehrenberg D, Weinert T, James D, Kar RK, Johnson PJM, Ozerov D, Furrer A, Martiel I, Dworkowski F, et al. Femtosecond-to-millisecond structural changes in a light-driven sodium pump. [Internet]. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Light-driven sodium pumps actively transport small cations across cellular membranes1. These pumps are used by microorganisms to convert light into membrane potential and have become useful optogenetic tools with applications in neuroscience. Although the resting state structures of the prototypical sodium pump Krokinobacter eikastus rhodopsin 2 (KR2) have been solved2,3, it is unclear how structural alterations over time allow sodium to be translocated against a concentration gradient. Here, using the Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser4, we have collected serial crystallographic data at ten pump–probe delays from femtoseconds to milliseconds. High-resolution structural snapshots throughout the KR2 photocycle show how retinal isomerization is completed on the femtosecond timescale and changes the local structure of the binding pocket in the early nanoseconds. Subsequent rearrangements and deprotonation of the retinal Schiff base open an electrostatic gate in microseconds. Structural and spectroscopic data, in combination with quantum chemical calculations, indicate that a sodium ion binds transiently close to the retinal within one millisecond. In the last structural intermediate, at 20 milliseconds after activation, we identified a potential second sodium-binding site close to the extracellular exit. These results provide direct molecular insight into the dynamics of active cation transport across biological membranes.
Battocchio G, González R, Rao AG, Schapiro I, Mroginski MA. Dynamic Properties of the Photosensory Domain of Deinococcus radiodurans Bacteriophytochrome. The Journal of Physical Chemistry BThe Journal of Physical Chemistry B [Internet]. 2020;124 (9) :1740 - 1750. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Phytochromes are biological photoreceptors found in all kingdoms of life. Numerous physicochemical and spectroscopic studies of phytochromes have been carried out for many decades, both experimentally and computationally, with the main focus on the photoconversion mechanism involving a tetrapyrrole chromophore. In this computational work, we concentrate on the long-scale dynamic motion of the photosensory domain of Deinococcus radiodurans by means of classical all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Conventional and accelerated MD methods in combination with two different force fields, CHARMM27 and AMBER ff14SB, are tested in long atomistic simulations to confront the dynamics of monomer and dimer forms. These calculations highlight dissimilar equilibrium conformations in aqueous solutions and, in turn, different large-scale dynamic behaviors of the monomer form vs the dimer form. While the phytochrome in a monomer form tends to close the cavity entailed between the GAF and PHY domains, the opposite trend is predicted for the phytochrome dimer, which opens up as a consequence of the formation of strong salt bridges between the PHY domains of two molecules in water.Phytochromes are biological photoreceptors found in all kingdoms of life. Numerous physicochemical and spectroscopic studies of phytochromes have been carried out for many decades, both experimentally and computationally, with the main focus on the photoconversion mechanism involving a tetrapyrrole chromophore. In this computational work, we concentrate on the long-scale dynamic motion of the photosensory domain of Deinococcus radiodurans by means of classical all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Conventional and accelerated MD methods in combination with two different force fields, CHARMM27 and AMBER ff14SB, are tested in long atomistic simulations to confront the dynamics of monomer and dimer forms. These calculations highlight dissimilar equilibrium conformations in aqueous solutions and, in turn, different large-scale dynamic behaviors of the monomer form vs the dimer form. While the phytochrome in a monomer form tends to close the cavity entailed between the GAF and PHY domains, the opposite trend is predicted for the phytochrome dimer, which opens up as a consequence of the formation of strong salt bridges between the PHY domains of two molecules in water.

Lansky S, Salama R, Shulami S, Lavid N, Sen S, Schapiro I, Shoham Y, Shoham G. Carbohydrate-Binding Capability and Functional Conformational Changes of AbnE, an Arabino-oligosaccharide Binding Protein. [Internet]. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

ABC importers are membrane proteins responsible for the transport of nutrients into the cells of prokaryotes. Although the structures of ABC importers vary, all contain four conserved domains: two nucleotide-binding domains (NBDs), which bind and hydrolyze ATP, and two transmembrane domains (TMDs), which help translocate the substrate. ABC importers are also dependent on an additional protein component, a high-affinity substrate-binding protein (SBP) that specifically binds the target ligand for delivery to the appropriate ABC transporter. AbnE is a SBP belonging to the ABC importer for arabino-oligosaccharides in the Gram-positive thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilus. Using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), purified AbnE was shown to bind medium-sized arabino-oligosaccharides, in the range of arabino-triose (A3) to arabino-octaose (A8), all with Kd values in the nanomolar range. We describe herein the 3D structure of AbnE in its closed conformation in complex with a wide range of arabino-oligosaccharide substrates (A2-A8). These structures provide the basis for the detailed structural analysis of the AbnE-sugar complexes, and together with complementary quantum chemical calculations, site-specific mutagenesis, and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) experiments, provide detailed insights into the AbnE-substrate interactions involved. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments and normal mode analysis (NMA) are used to study the conformational changes of AbnE, and these data, taken together, suggest clues regarding its binding mode to the full ABC importer.

Stensitzki T, Adam S, Schlesinger R, Schapiro I, Heyne K. Ultrafast Backbone Protonation in Channelrhodopsin-1 Captured by Polarization Resolved Fs Vis-pump—IR-Probe Spectroscopy and Computational Methods. Molecules. 2020;25 (4).Abstract

Channelrhodopsins (ChR) are light-gated ion-channels heavily used in optogenetics. Upon light excitation an ultrafast all-trans to 13-cis isomerization of the retinal chromophore takes place. It is still uncertain by what means this reaction leads to further protein changes and channel conductivity. Channelrhodopsin-1 in Chlamydomonas augustae exhibits a 100 fs photoisomerization and a protonated counterion complex. By polarization resolved ultrafast spectroscopy in the mid-IR we show that the initial reaction of the retinal is accompanied by changes in the protein backbone and ultrafast protonation changes at the counterion complex comprising Asp299 and Glu169. In combination with homology modelling and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) geometry optimization we assign the protonation dynamics to ultrafast deprotonation of Glu169, and transient protonation of the Glu169 backbone, followed by a proton transfer from the backbone to the carboxylate group of Asp299 on a timescale of tens of picoseconds. The second proton transfer is not related to retinal dynamics and reflects pure protein changes in the first photoproduct. We assume these protein dynamics to be the first steps in a cascade of protein-wide changes resulting in channel conductivity.
 

Kraskov A, Nguyen AD, Goerling J, Buhrke D, Velazquez Escobar F, Fernandez Lopez M, Michael N, Sauthof L, Schmidt A, Piwowarski P, et al. Intramolecular Proton Transfer Controls Protein Structural Changes in Phytochrome. BiochemistryBiochemistry [Internet]. 2020;59 (9) :1023-1037. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Phytochromes are biological photoswitches that interconvert between two parent states (Pr and Pfr). The transformation is initiated by photoisomerization of the tetrapyrrole chromophore, followed by a sequence of chromophore and protein structural changes. In the last step, a phytochrome-specific peptide segment (tongue) undergoes a secondary structure change, which in prokaryotic phytochromes is associated with the (de)activation of the output module. The focus of this work is the Pfr-to-Pr photoconversion of the bathy bacteriophytochrome Agp2 in which Pfr is the thermodynamically stable state. Using spectroscopic techniques, we studied the structural and functional consequences of substituting Arg211, Tyr165, His278, and Phe192 close to the biliverdin (BV) chromophore. In Pfr, substitutions of these residues do not affect the BV structure. The characteristic Pfr properties of bathy phytochromes, including the protonated propionic side chain of ring C (propC) of BV, are preserved. However, replacing Arg211 or Tyr165 blocks the photoconversion in the Meta-F state, prior to the secondary structure transition of the tongue and without deprotonation of propC. The Meta-F state of these variants displays low photochemical activity, but electronic excitation causes ultrafast alterations of the hydrogen bond network surrounding the chromophore. In all variants studied here, thermal back conversion from the photoproducts to Pfr is decelerated but substitution of His278 or Phe192 is not critical for the Pfr-to-Pr photoconversion. These variants do not impair deprotonation of propC or the α-helix/β-sheet transformation of the tongue during the Meta-F-to-Pr decay. Thus, we conclude that propC deprotonation is essential for restructuring of the tongue.Phytochromes are biological photoswitches that interconvert between two parent states (Pr and Pfr). The transformation is initiated by photoisomerization of the tetrapyrrole chromophore, followed by a sequence of chromophore and protein structural changes. In the last step, a phytochrome-specific peptide segment (tongue) undergoes a secondary structure change, which in prokaryotic phytochromes is associated with the (de)activation of the output module. The focus of this work is the Pfr-to-Pr photoconversion of the bathy bacteriophytochrome Agp2 in which Pfr is the thermodynamically stable state. Using spectroscopic techniques, we studied the structural and functional consequences of substituting Arg211, Tyr165, His278, and Phe192 close to the biliverdin (BV) chromophore. In Pfr, substitutions of these residues do not affect the BV structure. The characteristic Pfr properties of bathy phytochromes, including the protonated propionic side chain of ring C (propC) of BV, are preserved. However, replacing Arg211 or Tyr165 blocks the photoconversion in the Meta-F state, prior to the secondary structure transition of the tongue and without deprotonation of propC. The Meta-F state of these variants displays low photochemical activity, but electronic excitation causes ultrafast alterations of the hydrogen bond network surrounding the chromophore. In all variants studied here, thermal back conversion from the photoproducts to Pfr is decelerated but substitution of His278 or Phe192 is not critical for the Pfr-to-Pr photoconversion. These variants do not impair deprotonation of propC or the α-helix/β-sheet transformation of the tongue during the Meta-F-to-Pr decay. Thus, we conclude that propC deprotonation is essential for restructuring of the tongue.

Xu X, Port A, Wiebeler C, Zhao K-H, Schapiro I, Gärtner W. Structural elements regulating the photochromicity in a cyanobacteriochrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2020;117 (5) :2432-2440. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Phytochromes and related photoreceptors distinguish themselves for their long-wavelength absorption and large spectral shift between parental state and photoproduct. Both features are not well understood, partly due to lack of high-resolution structural data and insufficient support from quantum-chemical calculations. The red–green switching cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393g3 shows an absorption shift larger than 110 nm. Both parental state and photoproduct could be crystallized with high resolution, together with a “hybrid” form carrying the chromophore in parental state geometry, whereas the protein remained in the photoproduct conformation. The crystal structures reveal how chromophore and protein mutually regulate their conformational changes, yielding the observed spectral shift. Quantum-chemical calculations, based on these structures, provide a deeper understanding of the spectral tuning mechanisms.The three-dimensional (3D) crystal structures of the GAF3 domain of cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393 (Synechocystis PCC6803) carrying a phycocyanobilin chromophore could be solved in both 15-Z dark-adapted state, Pr, λmax = 649 nm, and 15-E photoproduct, Pg, λmax = 536 nm (resolution, 1.6 and 1.86 Å, respectively). The structural data allowed identifying the large spectral shift of the Pr-to-Pg conversion as resulting from an out-of-plane rotation of the chromophore’s peripheral rings and an outward movement of a short helix formed from a formerly unstructured loop. In addition, a third structure (2.1-Å resolution) starting from the photoproduct crystals allowed identification of elements that regulate the absorption maxima. In this peculiar form, generated during X-ray exposition, protein and chromophore conformation still resemble the photoproduct state, except for the D-ring already in 15-Z configuration and tilted out of plane akin the dark state. Due to its formation from the photoproduct, it might be considered an early conformational change initiating the parental state-recovering photocycle. The high quality and the distinct features of the three forms allowed for applying quantum-chemical calculations in the framework of multiscale modeling to rationalize the absorption maxima changes. A systematic analysis of the PCB chromophore in the presence and absence of the protein environment showed that the direct electrostatic effect is negligible on the spectral tuning. However, the protein forces the outer pyrrole rings of the chromophore to deviate from coplanarity, which is identified as the dominating factor for the color regulation.

2019
Ding Y, Kiryutin AS, Yurkovskaya AV, Sosnovsky DV, Sagdeev RZ, Bannister S, Kottke T, Kar RK, Schapiro I, Ivanov KL, et al. Nuclear spin-hyperpolarization generated in a flavoprotein under illumination: experimental field-dependence and theoretical level crossing analysis. Scientific Reports. 2019;9 (1) :18436.Abstract

The solid-state photo-chemically induced dynamic nuclear polarization (photo-CIDNP) effect generates non-equilibrium nuclear spin polarization in frozen electron-transfer proteins upon illumination and radical-pair formation. The effect can be observed in various natural photosynthetic reaction center proteins using magic-angle spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and in a flavin-binding light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) domain of the blue-light receptor phototropin. In the latter system, a functionally instrumental cysteine has been mutated to interrupt the natural cysteine-involving photochemistry allowing for an electron transfer from a more distant tryptophan to the excited flavin mononucleotide chromophore. We explored the solid-state photo-CIDNP effect and its mechanisms in phototropin-LOV1-C57S from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by using field-cycling solution NMR. We observed the 13C and, to our knowledge, for the first time, 15N photo-CIDNP signals from phototropin-LOV1-C57S. Additionally, the 1H photo-CIDNP signals of residual water in the deuterated buffer of the protein were detected. The relative strengths of the photo-CIDNP effect from the three types of nuclei, 1H, 13C and 15N were measured in dependence of the magnetic field, showing their maximum polarizations at different magnetic fields. Theoretical level crossing analysis demonstrates that anisotropic mechanisms play the dominant role at high magnetic fields.

Schapiro I, Gueye M, Paolino M, Fusi S, Marchand G, Haacke S, Martin ME, Huntress M, Vysotskiy VP, Veryazov V, et al. Synthesis, spectroscopy and QM/MM simulations of a biomimetic ultrafast light-driven molecular motor. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. [Internet]. 2019;18 :2259-2269. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A molecular motor potentially performing a continuous unidirectional rotation is studied by a multidisciplinary approach including organic synthesis, transient spectroscopy and excited state trajectory calculations. A stereogenic center was introduced in the N-alkylated indanylidene–pyrroline Schiff base framework of a previously investigated light-driven molecular switch in order to achieve the unidirectional CC rotary motion typical of Feringa's motor. Here we report that the specific substitution pattern of the designed chiral molecule must critically determine the unidirectional efficiency of the light-induced rotary motion. More specifically, we find that a stereogenic center containing a methyl group and a hydrogen atom as substituents does not create a differential steric effect large enough to fully direct the motion in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction especially along the E → Z coordinate. However, due to the documented ultrafast character and electronic circular dichroism activity of the investigated system, we find that it provides the basis for development of a novel generation of rotary motors with a biomimetic framework and operating on a picosecond time scale.
Wiebeler C, Schapiro I. QM/MM Benchmarking of Cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393g3 Absorption Spectra. Molecules [Internet]. 2019;24 (9). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cyanobacteriochromes are compact and spectrally diverse photoreceptor proteins that are promising candidates for biotechnological applications. Computational studies can contribute to an understanding at a molecular level of their wide spectral tuning and diversity. In this contribution, we benchmark methods to model a 110 nm shift in the UV/Vis absorption spectrum from a red- to a green-absorbing form of the cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393g3. Based on an assessment of semiempirical methods to describe the chromophore geometries of both forms in vacuo, we find that DFTB2+D leads to structures that are the closest to the reference method. The benchmark of the excited state calculations is based on snapshots from quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics molecular dynamics simulations. In our case, the methods RI-ADC(2) and sTD-DFT based on CAM-B3LYP ground state calculations perform the best, whereas no functional can be recommended to simulate the absorption spectra of both forms with time-dependent density functional theory. Furthermore, the difference in absorption for the lowest energy absorption maxima of both forms can already be modelled with optimized structures, but sampling is required to improve the shape of the absorption bands of both forms, in particular for the second band. This benchmark study can guide further computational studies, as it assesses essential components of a protocol to model the spectral tuning of both cyanobacteriochromes and the related phytochromes.
Wiebeler C, Rao AG, Gärtner W, Schapiro I. The Effective Conjugation Length Is Responsible for the Red/Green Spectral Tuning in the Cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393g3. Angewandte Chemie International Edition [Internet]. 2019;58 (7) :1934-1938. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The origin of the spectral shift from a red- to a green-absorbing form in a cyanobacteriochrome, Slr1393g3, was identified by combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations. This protein, related to classical phytochromes, carries the open-chain tetrapyrrole chromophore phycocyanobilin. Our calculations reveal that the effective conjugation length in the chromophore becomes shorter upon conversion from the red to the green form. This is related to the planarity of the entire chromophore. A large distortion was found for the terminal pyrrole rings A and D; however, the D ring contributes more strongly to the photoproduct tuning, despite a larger change in the twist of the A ring. Our findings implicate that the D ring twist can be exploited to regulate the absorption of the photoproduct. Hence, mutations that affect the D ring twist can lead to rational tuning of the photoproduct absorption, allowing the tailoring of cyanobacteriochromes for biotechnological applications such as optogenetics and bioimaging.
Fdez. Galván I, Vacher M, Alavi A, Angeli C, Aquilante F, Autschbach J, Bao JJ, Bokarev SI, Bogdanov NA, Carlson RK, et al. OpenMolcas: From Source Code to Insight. Journal of Chemical Theory and ComputationJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation [Internet]. 2019;15 (11) :5925 - 5964. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this Article we describe the OpenMolcas environment and invite the computational chemistry community to collaborate. The open-source project already includes a large number of new developments realized during the transition from the commercial MOLCAS product to the open-source platform. The paper initially describes the technical details of the new software development platform. This is followed by brief presentations of many new methods, implementations, and features of the OpenMolcas program suite. These developments include novel wave function methods such as stochastic complete active space self-consistent field, density matrix renormalization group (DMRG) methods, and hybrid multiconfigurational wave function and density functional theory models. Some of these implementations include an array of additional options and functionalities. The paper proceeds and describes developments related to explorations of potential energy surfaces. Here we present methods for the optimization of conical intersections, the simulation of adiabatic and nonadiabatic molecular dynamics, and interfaces to tools for semiclassical and quantum mechanical nuclear dynamics. Furthermore, the Article describes features unique to simulations of spectroscopic and magnetic phenomena such as the exact semiclassical description of the interaction between light and matter, various X-ray processes, magnetic circular dichroism, and properties. Finally, the paper describes a number of built-in and add-on features to support the OpenMolcas platform with postcalculation analysis and visualization, a multiscale simulation option using frozen-density embedding theory, and new electronic and muonic basis sets.In this Article we describe the OpenMolcas environment and invite the computational chemistry community to collaborate. The open-source project already includes a large number of new developments realized during the transition from the commercial MOLCAS product to the open-source platform. The paper initially describes the technical details of the new software development platform. This is followed by brief presentations of many new methods, implementations, and features of the OpenMolcas program suite. These developments include novel wave function methods such as stochastic complete active space self-consistent field, density matrix renormalization group (DMRG) methods, and hybrid multiconfigurational wave function and density functional theory models. Some of these implementations include an array of additional options and functionalities. The paper proceeds and describes developments related to explorations of potential energy surfaces. Here we present methods for the optimization of conical intersections, the simulation of adiabatic and nonadiabatic molecular dynamics, and interfaces to tools for semiclassical and quantum mechanical nuclear dynamics. Furthermore, the Article describes features unique to simulations of spectroscopic and magnetic phenomena such as the exact semiclassical description of the interaction between light and matter, various X-ray processes, magnetic circular dichroism, and properties. Finally, the paper describes a number of built-in and add-on features to support the OpenMolcas platform with postcalculation analysis and visualization, a multiscale simulation option using frozen-density embedding theory, and new electronic and muonic basis sets.

Ehrenberg D, Krause N, Saita M, Bamann C, Kar RK, Hoffmann K, Heinrich D, Schapiro I, Heberle J, Schlesinger R. Atomistic Insight into the Role of Threonine 127 in the Functional Mechanism of Channelrhodopsin-2. Applied Sciences [Internet]. 2019;9 (22). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Channelrhodopsins (ChRs) belong to the unique class of light-gated ion channels. The structure of channelrhodopsin-2 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrChR2) has been resolved, but the mechanistic link between light-induced isomerization of the chromophore retinal and channel gating remains elusive. Replacements of residues C128 and D156 (DC gate) resulted in drastic effects in channel closure. T127 is localized close to the retinal Schiff base and links the DC gate to the Schiff base. The homologous residue in bacteriorhodopsin (T89) has been shown to be crucial for the visible absorption maximum and dark–light adaptation, suggesting an interaction with the retinylidene chromophore, but the replacement had little effect on photocycle kinetics and proton pumping activity. Here, we show that the T127A and T127S variants of CrChR2 leave the visible absorption maximum unaffected. We inferred from hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) calculations and resonance Raman spectroscopy that the hydroxylic side chain of T127 is hydrogen-bonded to E123 and the latter is hydrogen-bonded to the retinal Schiff base. The C=N–H vibration of the Schiff base in the T127A variant was 1674 cm−1, the highest among all rhodopsins reported to date. We also found heterogeneity in the Schiff base ground state vibrational properties due to different rotamer conformations of E123. The photoreaction of T127A is characterized by a long-lived P2380 state during which the Schiff base is deprotonated. The conservative replacement of T127S hardly affected the photocycle kinetics. Thus, we inferred that the hydroxyl group at position 127 is part of the proton transfer pathway from D156 to the Schiff base during rise of the P3530 intermediate. This finding provides molecular reasons for the evolutionary conservation of the chemically homologous residues threonine, serine, and cysteine at this position in all channelrhodopsins known so far.
Kar RK, Borin VA, Ding Y, Matysik J, Schapiro I. Spectroscopic Properties of Lumiflavin: A Quantum Chemical Study. Photochemistry and Photobiology [Internet]. 2019;95 (2) :662-674. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Abstract In this work, the electronic structure and spectroscopic properties of lumiflavin are calculated using various quantum chemical methods. The excitation energies for ten singlet and triplet states as well as the analysis of the electron density difference are assessed using various wave function-based methods and density functionals. The relative order of singlet and triplet excited states is established on the basis of the coupled cluster method CC2. We find that at least seven singlet excited states are required to assign all peaks in the UV/Vis spectrum. In addition, we have studied the solvatochromic effect on the excitation energies and found differential effects except for the first bright excited state. Vibrational frequencies as well as IR, Raman and resonance Raman intensities are simulated and compared to their experimental counterparts. We have assigned peaks, assessed the effect of anharmonicity, and confirmed the previous assignments in case of the most intense transitions. Finally, we have studied the NMR shieldings and established the effect of the solvent polarity. The present study provides data for lumiflavin in the gas phase and in implicit solvent model that can be used as a reference for the protein-embedded flavin simulations and assignment of experimental spectra.

2018
Toker Y, Langeland J, Gruber E, Kjær C, Nielsen SB, Andersen LH, Borin VA, Schapiro I. Counterion-controlled spectral tuning of the protonated Schiff-base retinal. Physical Review A [Internet]. 2018;98 (4) :043428. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Color vision is based on the ability of different opsin proteins to tune the absorption band of their chromophore, the retinal protonated Schiff base (RPSB). Two main mechanisms proposed for this tunability are geometric and electrostatic. Here we probe the latter effect experimentally and by a quantum chemical calculation of the absorption by an isolated complex containing the retinal chromophore and molecules with a strong dipole moment. Betaine complexation causes an anomalously large blue shift. The shift provides direct evidence that the strong charge-transfer character of the electronic transition is the cause of the opsin shift, and shows that the electric field of the counterion is responsible for the color tuning, which allows absorption of light in the blue region of the visible spectrum by opsin proteins.

Guo Y, Wolff FE, Schapiro I, Elstner M, Marazzi M. Different hydrogen bonding environments of the retinal protonated Schiff base control the photoisomerization in channelrhodopsin-2. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics [Internet]. 2018;20 (43) :27501 - 27509. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The first event of the channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) photocycle, i.e. trans-to-cis photoisomerization, is studied by means of quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics, taking into account the flexible retinal environment in the ground state. By treating the chromophore at the ab initio multiconfigurational level of theory, we can rationalize the experimental findings based on pump–probe spectroscopy, explaining the different and more complex scenario found for ChR2 in comparison to other rhodopsins. In particular, we find that depending on the hydrogen bonding pattern, different excited states are involved, hence making it possible to suggest one pattern as the most productive. Moreover, after photoisomerization the structure of the first photocycle intermediate, P5001, is characterized by simulating the infrared spectrum and compared to available experimental data. This was obtained by extensive molecular dynamics, where the chromophore is described by a semi-empirical method based on density functional theory. The results clearly identify which counterion is responsible for accepting the proton from the retinal Schiff base: the side chain of the glutamic acid E123.

Sen S, Schapiro I. A comprehensive benchmark of the XMS-CASPT2 method for the photochemistry of a retinal chromophore model. Molecular Physics [Internet]. 2018;116 (19 - 20) :2571 - 2582. Publisher's VersionAbstract

ABSTRACT The performance of the extended multi-state (XMS)-complete active space second-order perturbation theory (CASPT2) method has been assessed for the benchmark of a truncated retinal model, the penta-2,4-dieniminium cation (PSB3). This benchmark presents a challenge for multireference electronic structure methods because the wave function character is changing considerably. The assessment comprises ground and excited state pathways of the isomerisation, including transition states and conical intersection (CI) points. It also includes circular paths centred around different CIs, and 2D potential energy scans located in the branching planes. In this work, we compare the performance of the previous formulations of CASPT2, the single-state and the multi-state, with the recently developed XMS-CASPT2. Besides, we have also tested two variants of internal contraction in XMS-CASPT2, namely, the single-state single reference (SS-SR) and multi-state multireference (MS-MR) schemes. In our study, we find that XMS-CASPT2 corrects the artefacts and discontinuities present in other CASPT2 variants. The investigation of a circular loop and 2D potential energy surfaces around the surface crossing point shows that XMS-CASPT2 exhibits a smooth topology at the CI with the correct degeneracy. It also agrees better with the reference method MRCISD+Q in regions of the potential energy surfaces further away from CIs. Another observation is the close agreement between the results from the SS-SR contraction scheme and the more demanding MS-MR scheme.

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