Dimerization of European Robin Cryptochrome 4a
Maja Hanić, Lewis M. Antill, Angela S. Gehrckens, Jessica Schmidt, Katharina Görtemaker, Rabea Bartölke, Tarick J. El-Baba, Jingjing Xu, Karl-Wilhelm Koch, Henrik Mouritsen, Justin L. P. Benesch, P. J. Hore, Ilia A. Solov'yov
Journal of Physical Chemistry B
Homo-dimer formation is important for the function of manyproteins. Although dimeric forms of cryptochromes (Cry) have been found by crystallography and were recently observed in vitro for European robin Cry4a little is known about the dimerization of avian Crys and the role it could play in the mechanism of magnetic sensing in migratory birds. Here, we present a combined experimental and computational investigation of the dimerization of robin Cry4a resulting from covalent and non-covalent interactions. Experimental studies using native mass spectrometry, mass spectrometric analysis of disulfide bonds, chemical cross-linking, and photometric measurements show that disulfide-linked dimers are routinely formed, that their formation is promoted by exposure to blue light, and that the most likely cysteines are C317 and C412. Computational modeling and molecular dynamics simulations were used to generate and assess a number of possible dimer structures. The relevance of these findings to the proposed role of Cry4a in avian magnetoreception is discussed.