Irradiation of ZnPPIX Complexed with Bovine β-Lactoglobulin Causes Chemical Modifications and Conformational Changes of the Protein




Albalawi, Abdullah
Castillo, Omar
Denton, Michael L.
Rickman, John Michael
Noojin, Gary D.
Brancaleon, Lorenzo

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Photosensitization of proteins mediated by chromophores is a mechanism commonly employed by nature and mimicked in a broad array of laboratory research and applications. Nature has evolved specialized complexes of proteins and photosensitizers (PS) that assemble to form photoreceptor proteins (PRP). These are used by many organisms in diverse processes, such as energy conversion, protection against photodamage, etc. The same concept has been used in laboratory settings for many applications, such as the stimulation of neurons or the selective depletion of proteins in a signaling pathway. A key issue in laboratory settings has been the relationship between the photooxidation of proteins and conformational changes in host proteins. For several years, we have been interested in creating non-native PRP using porphyrin PS. In this study, we investigated the self-assembled complex between zinc protoporphyrin IX (ZnPPIX) and bovine β-lactoglobulin (BLG) as a model of non-native PRP. Since BLG undergoes a significant conformational transition near physiological pH, the study was carried out at acidic (pH 5) and alkaline (pH 9) conditions where the two conformations are respectively prevalent. We employed a series of steady-state and time-resolved optical spectroscopies as well as gel electrophoresis to experimentally characterize the photosensitization mechanisms and their effect on the host protein. Our results show that ZnPPIX prompts light-dependent modifications of BLG, which appear to be much more significant at alkaline pH. The modifications seem to be driven by photooxidation of amino acid residues that do not lead to the formation of cross-links or protein fragmentation.




Physchem 3 (4): 411-439 (2023)