* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received June 25, 2013
Progress in understanding primary mechanisms of light reception in photoregulatory processes is achieved through discovering new biological photoreceptors, chiefly the regulatory sensors of blue/UV-A light. Among them are LOV domain-containing proteins and DNA photolyase-like cryptochromes, which constitute two widespread groups of photoreceptors that use flavin cofactors (FMN or FAD) as the photoactive chromophores. Bacterial LOV domain modules are connected in photoreceptor proteins with regulatory domains such as diguanylate cyclases/phosphodiesterases, histidine kinases, and DNA-binding domains that are activated by photoconversions of flavin. Identification of red/far-red light sensors in chemotrophic bacteria (bacteriophytochromes) and crystal structures of their photosensor module with bilin chromophore are significant for decoding the mechanisms of phytochrome receptor photoconversion and early step mechanisms of phytochrome-mediated signaling. The only UV-B regulatory photon sensor, UVR8, recently identified in plants, unlike other photoreceptors functions without a prosthetic chromophore: tryptophans of the unique UVR8 protein structure provide a “UV-B antenna”. Our analysis of new data on photosensory properties of the identified photoreceptors in conjunction with their structure opens insight on the influence of the molecular microenvironment on light-induced chromophore reactions, the mechanisms by which the photoactivated chromophores trigger conformational changes in the surrounding protein structure, and structural bases of propagation of these changes to the interacting effector domains/proteins.
KEY WORDS: phytochromes, cryptochromes, LOV-domain photosensors, chromophores, structure, signaling