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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(7), 1174; doi:10.3390/ijms18071174

FRET-Mediated Long-Range Wavelength Transformation by Photoconvertible Fluorescent Proteins as an Efficient Mechanism to Generate Orange-Red Light in Symbiotic Deep Water Corals

Coral Reef Laboratory, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO143ZH, UK
Institute for Life Sciences (IFLS), University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton SO171BJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Dominique Bourgeois and Hideaki Mizuno
Received: 7 April 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 4 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluorescent Proteins)
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Photoconvertible fluorescent proteins (pcRFPs) are a group of fluorophores that undergo an irreversible green-to-red shift in emission colour upon irradiation with near-ultraviolet (near-UV) light. Despite their wide application in biotechnology, the high-level expression of pcRFPs in mesophotic and depth-generalist coral species currently lacks a biological explanation. Additionally, reduced penetration of near-UV wavelengths in water poses the question whether light-driven photoconversion is relevant in the mesophotic zone, or whether a different mechanism is involved in the post-translational pigment modification in vivo. Here, we show in a long-term mesocosm experiment that photoconversion in vivo is entirely dependent on near-UV wavelengths. However, a near-UV intensity equivalent to the mesophotic underwater light field at 80 m depth is sufficient to drive the process in vitro, suggesting that photoconversion can occur near the lower distribution limits of these corals. Furthermore, live coral colonies showed evidence of efficient Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET). Our simulated mesophotic light field maintained the pcRFP pool in a partially photoconverted state in vivo, maximising intra-tetrameric FRET and creating a long-range wavelength conversion system with higher quantum yield than other native RFPs. We hypothesise that efficient conversion of blue wavelengths, abundant at depth, into orange-red light could constitute an adaptation of corals to life in light-limited environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: fluorescent protein; fluorescence; photoconversion; coral; mesophotic; FRET fluorescent protein; fluorescence; photoconversion; coral; mesophotic; FRET

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bollati, E.; Plimmer, D.; D’Angelo, C.; Wiedenmann, J. FRET-Mediated Long-Range Wavelength Transformation by Photoconvertible Fluorescent Proteins as an Efficient Mechanism to Generate Orange-Red Light in Symbiotic Deep Water Corals. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 1174.

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