Vitamin B12-based photoreceptors and their applications in optogenetics and synthetic biology highlighted in an invited review by members of IQFR and Dpto. Genética-Universidad de Murcia (Unidad Asociada al IQFR)

Vitamin B12-based photoreceptor proteins sense ultraviolet, blue or green light using 5'-deoxyadenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl). The prototype of this widespread bacterial photoreceptor family, CarH, controls light-dependent gene expression in photoprotective cellular responses. CarH activity as a transcription factor is based on the modulation of its oligomeric state by AdoCbl and light. Fundamental insights into these photoreceptors are now available from structures in the dark, in the light and in the DNA-bound states, and from studies of their unusual photochemistry. They are also emerging as versatile optogenetics and synthetic biology tools for light-regulated gene expression, receptor signaling, and fabrication of photoresponsive protein hydrogels and nanofilms with potential in drug/cell delivery and tissue engineering. This invited article for a themed issue on “Engineering and design: synthetic signaling” in Curr Opin Struct Biol surveys these recent advances. It highlights seminal and recent work by members of IQFR and the Dpto. Genética-Universidad de Murcia (Unidad Asociada al IQFR) and their collaborations with research groups in MIT (USA) and the Univ. Manchester (UK), and how various groups have exploited CarH photoreceptors in optogenetics and synthetic biology.

Padmanabhan S, Pérez-Castaño R, Elías-Arnanz M. “B12-based photoreceptors: from structure and function to applications in optogenetics and synthetic biology” Curr Opin Struct Biol. 57, 47-55 (March 6, 2019). doi: 10.1016/

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