Two photochromic activators of the electrogenic membrane of the electroplax of Electrophorus electricus are described. monium)methyljazobenzene dibromide (Bis-Q), one of the most potent ever reported, is active at concentrations of less than 10-7 M. Its cis isomer, which is obtained from the trans by exposure to light of 330 nm, is practically devoid of activity. Photoregulation of the potential of the membrane takes place in the presence of Bis-Q, presumably because of the conversion of the active trans isomer to the inactive cis isomer in the single-cell electroplax system.The second activator, 3-(a-bromomethyl)-3'-[a-(trimethylammonium)methyllazobenzene bromide (QBr) can be covalently attached to the electroplax membrane after reduction of the membrane with dithiothreitol. Activation of the membrane is induced by the covalently linked reagent. Its cis isomer, obtained from the trans by exposure to light of 330 nm, is, like cis-Bis-Q, of very low activity. Both isomers of Bis-Q are equally active as inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase, 50% inhibition occurring at a concentration of 10-5 M. The possibility of using trans-Bis-Q and trans-QBr to characterize and isolate the receptor protein is discussed.Systems in which photoregulation could be studied at the molecular level were described in previous papers. In these systems, photochromic azo derivatives were used as effector molecules to regulate the activities of chymotrypsin (1) and acetylcholinesterase (2, 3) and to photoregulate the potential of the excitable membrane of the monocellular electroplax preparation (4). Photoregulation was achieved by exploiting differences between the biochemical activities of the cis and trans isomers of the photochromic compounds, the relative concentrations of which were influenced by the wavelength of light to which the solution was exposed [or light vs. darkness, in one case (3) ].Light-induced changes in potential of the electroplax membrane may be considered as a Mtodel for the process of vision, in which the cis to trans isomerization of retinal is the first step in the initiation of a neural impulse. In the latter case, however, as well as in the phytochrome system of plants (5), the photochromic substances are located intracellularly, making for a highly efficient process. It thus appeared of interest to prepare a light-sensitive ligand that would form a covalent bond with the receptor protein of the electroplax. A compound with the desired properties was prepared: 3-(a-bromomethyl)-3'-[a-(trimethylammonium)methyl]azobenzene (QBr). Also synthesized was the closely related 3,3'-bis[a-(trimethylammonium)methyl]azobenzene (Bis-Q). the trans isomer of which was found to be a potent receptor activator, one of the most potent thus far described.The high affinity and specificity of Bis-Q may make it a useful reagent for the characterization, isolation, and purification of the receptor protein. Some experiments with the two azo compounds are presented in this paper.
METHODSPreparation of 3,3'-bis(a-bromomethyl)azobenz...
c or reduced phenazine methosulfate coupled with the reduction of ubiquinone. We wish to report now that chromatophores from aerobically grown R. spheroides, strain Ga, sensitize these reactions efficiently (with quantum requirements of a few quanta per electron transfer), whereas chromatophores from the nonphotosynthetic mutant strain PM-8 are entirely unable to drive these photochemical processes. The failure of strain PM-8 to catalyze the photooxidation of reduced phenazine methosulfate is the more remarkable because this reaction is sensitized by purified bacteriochlorophyll in vitro. These findings show that the major component of bacteriochlorophyll is inert with respect to the foregoing light-induced activities, and that a special kind of reaction center is needed for the photochemistry that leads to photosynthesis. The results of experiments with exogenous reagents will be published in detail elsewhere. We are indebted to Dr. W. S. Zaugg for making available both the chemicals and the methodology for studying the photochemical electron transfer reactions of cytochrome, phenazine methosulfate, and ubiquinone. * Contribution no. 157 from the Charles F. Kettering Research Laboratory.
After disulphide bonds are reduced with dithiothreitol, trans-3-(a-bromomethyl)-3'-[a-(t rimethylammonium) methyl]azobenzene(trans-QBr) alkylates a sulfhydryl group on receptors. The membrane conductance induced by this "tethered agonist" shares many properties with that induced by reversible agonists. Equilibrium conductance increases as the membrane potential is made more negative; the voltage sensitivity resembles that seen with 50 btM carbachol. Voltage-jump relaxations follow an exponential time-course; the rate constants are about twice as large as those seen with 50 #M carbachol and have the same voltage and temperature sensitivity. With reversible agonists, the rate of channel opening increases with the frequency of agonist-receptor collisions: with tethered trans-QBr, this rate depends only on intramolecular events. In comparison to the conductance induced by reversible agonists, the QBr-induced conductance is at least 10-fold less sensitive to competitive blockade by tubocurarine and roughly as sensitive to "open-channel blockade" by QX-222. Light-flash experiments with tethered QBr resemble those with the reversible photoisomerizable agonist,
3,3',bis-[a-(trimethylammonium)methyl]azobenzene (Bis-Q): the conductance is increased by cis ~ trans photoisomerizations and decreased by trans --* dsphotoisomerizations. As with Bis-Q, light-flash relaxations have the same rate constant as voltage-jump relaxations. Receptors with tethered cis-QBr have a channel duration severalfold briefer than with the tethered trans isomer. By comparing the agonist-induced conductance with the cis/trans ratio, we conclude that each channel's activation is determined by the configuration of a single tethered QBr molecule. The QBr-induced conductance shows slow decreases (time constant, several hundred milliseconds), which can be partially reversed by flashes. The similarities suggest that the same rate-limiting step governs the opening and closing of channels for both reversible and tethered agonists.
J. GEN. PHYSIOL. ~) The Rockefeller University Press
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