A Light-Oxygen-Voltage Receptor Integrates Light and Temperature

Julia Dietler, Roman Schubert, Tobias G.A. Krafft, Simone Meiler, Stephanie Kainrath, Florian Richter, Kristian Schweimer, Michael Weyand, Harald Janovjak, Andreas Möglich

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Sensory photoreceptors enable organisms to adjust their physiology, behavior, and development in response to light, generally with spatiotemporal acuity and reversibility. These traits underlie the use of photoreceptors as genetically encoded actuators to alter by light the state and properties of heterologous organisms. Subsumed as optogenetics, pertinent approaches enable regulating diverse cellular processes, not least gene expression. Here, we controlled the widely used Tet repressor by coupling to light-oxygen-voltage (LOV) modules that either homodimerize or dissociate under blue light. Repression could thus be elevated or relieved, and consequently protein expression was modulated by light. Strikingly, the homodimeric RsLOV module from Rhodobacter sphaeroides not only dissociated under light but intrinsically reacted to temperature. The limited light responses of wild-type RsLOV at 37 °C were enhanced in two variants that exhibited closely similar photochemistry and structure. One variant improved the weak homodimerization affinity of 40 µM by two-fold and thus also bestowed light sensitivity on a receptor tyrosine kinase. Certain photoreceptors, exemplified by RsLOV, can evidently moonlight as temperature sensors which immediately bears on their application in optogenetics and biotechnology. Properly accounted for, the temperature sensitivity can be leveraged for the construction of signal-responsive cellular circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167107
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021


  • crystal structure
  • optogenetics
  • sensory photoreceptor
  • signal transduction
  • Tet repressor

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