Activation of Cryptochrome 4 from Atlantic Herring
Anders Frederiksen, Mandus Aldag, Ilia A. Solov'yov, Luca Gerhards
Marine fish migrate long distances up to hundreds or even thousands of kilometers for various reasons that include seasonal dependencies, feeding, or reproduction.The ability to perceive the geomagnetic field, called magnetoreception, is one of the many mechanisms allowing some fish to navigate reliably in the aquatic realm. While it is believed that the photoreceptor protein cryptochrome 4 (Cry4) is the key component for the radical pair-based magnetoreception mechanism in night migratory songbirds, the Cry4 mechanism in fish is still largely unexplored. The present study aims to investigate properties of the fish Cry4 protein in order to understand the potential involvement in a radical pair-based magnetoreception. Specifically, a computationally reconstructed atomistic model of Cry4 from the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) was studied employing classical molecular dynamics (MD) and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods to investigate internal electron transfers and the radical pair formation. The QM/MM simulations reveal that electron transfers occur similarly to those found experimentally and computationally in Cry4 from European robin (Erithacus rubecula). It is therefore plausible that the investigated Atlantic herring Cry4 has the physical and chemical properties to form radical pairs that in turn could provide fish with a radical pair-based magnetic field compass sensor.