Light-sensing proteins contain chromophores that absorb light and then rapidly de-excite. Somehow this rapid de-excitation leads to the breaking of hydrogen bonds and the beginning of a signal cascade. The key to this maybe a very short-lived super-heating of the chromophore and surrounding protein that provides the impetus to overcome energy barriers. This project will develop a full theory of how proteins convert light to heat to large scale movement. It will combine theoretical biophysics, molecular simulations, optical spectroscopy and protein purification to understand how biology harnesses, converts and transfers light energy on ultrafast timescales.
1. F Muzzopappa, D Kirilovsky (2020) Changing Color for Photoprotection: The Orange Carotenoid Protein. Trends in Plant Sci. 25, 1
2. M Bondanza, L Cupellini, P Faccioli, B Mennucci* (2020) Molecular Mechanisms of Activation in the Orange Carotenoid Protein Revealed by Molecular Dynamics J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 21829−21841.
3. V Balevičius Jr, T Wei, D Di Tommaso, D Abramavicius, J Hauer, T Polívka, CDP Duffy* (2019). The full dynamics of energy relaxation in large organic molecules: from photo-excitation to solvent heating. Chem. Sci. 10, 4792-4804
4. PE Konold, IHM van Stokkum, F Muzzopappa, A Wilson, M-L Groot, D Kirilovsky, JTM Kennis* (2019) Photoactivation Mechanism, Timing of Protein Secondary Structure Dynamics and Carotenoid Translocation in the Orange Carotenoid Protein. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 141, 520−530