Chromophore twisting in the excited state of a photoswitchable fluorescent protein captured by time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography
Authors: Coquelle, N.; Sliwa, M.; Woodhouse, J.; Schirò, G.; Adam, V.; Aquila, A.; Barends, T.; Boutet, S.; Byrdin, M.; Carbajo, S. ; la Mora, E. D.; Doak, R. B.; Feliks, M.; Fieschi, F.; Foucar, L.; Guillon, V.; Hilpert, M.; Hunter, M. S.; Jakobs, S.; Koglin, J. E.; Kovácsová, G.; Lane, T.J, Lévy B, Liang M, Nass K, Ridard J, Robinson JS, Roome CM, Ruckebusch C, Seaberg M, Thepaut M, Cammarata M, Demachy I, Field M, Shoeman RL Bourgeois D, Colletier JP, Schlichting I, Weik M
CellNetworks People: Schlichting Ilme
Journal: Nature Chemistry. 2017 Jul 27. doi:10.1038/nchem.2853.

Proteins that change their structure in response to light absorption regulate many functional processes in living cells. Moreover, biotechnological approaches like optogenetics and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy recently triggered the generation of new genetically modified photosensitive proteins. Light-induced structural changes in photosensitive proteins can be studied by time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX), an X-ray diffraction technique that allows the determination of macromolecular structures at X-ray free-electron lasers from a large number of nano- to micro-sized crystals. This article describes a simple and efficient system for converting photosensitive proteins into light-induced semi-stationary states by inline laser illumination prior to sample injection with a gas-focused liquid jet and subsequent optical pump–X-ray probe exposure. The simple setup of this device makes it suitable for integration into other liquid injectors (like electro-spinning and electro-kinetic injectors) and potentially also in high-viscosity extruders, provided that embedding microcrystals in viscous media does not alter protein photophysical properties. The functioning of the device is demonstrated with an example of a photoswitchable fluorescent protein pre-illuminated (photoactivated) for time-resolved SFX experiments. The device can be easily adapted for the conversion in time-resolved SFX experiments of other microcrystalline proteins, such as photosystems, phytochromes and rhodopsins.