Indexed on: 03 Mar '10Published on: 03 Mar '10Published in: Annual review of plant biology
Signaling photoreceptors use the information contained in the absorption of a photon to modulate biological activity in plants and a wide range of organisms. The fundamental-and as yet imperfectly answered-question is, how is this achieved at the molecular level? We adopt the perspective of biophysicists interested in light-dependent signal transduction in nature and the three-dimensional structures that underpin signaling. Six classes of photoreceptors are known: light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) sensors, xanthopsins, phytochromes, blue-light sensors using flavin adenine dinucleotide (BLUF), cryptochromes, and rhodopsins. All are water-soluble proteins except rhodopsins, which are integral membrane proteins; all are based on a modular architecture except cryptochromes and rhodopsins; and each displays a distinct, light-dependent chemical process based on the photochemistry of their nonprotein chromophore, such as isomerization about a double bond (xanthopsins, phytochromes, and rhodopsins), formation or rupture of a covalent bond (LOV sensors), or electron transfer (BLUF sensors and cryptochromes).