Synthetic proteins designed and constructed from first principles with minimal reference to the sequence of any natural protein have proven robust and extraordinarily adaptable for engineering a range of functions. Here for the first time we describe the expression and genetic fusion of a natural photosynthetic light-harvesting subunit with a synthetic protein designed for light energy capture and multi-step transfer. We demonstrate excitation energy transfer from the bilin of the CpcA subunit (phycocyanin α subunit) of the cyanobacterial photosynthetic light-harvesting phycobilisome to synthetic four-helix-bundle proteins accommodating sites that specifically bind a variety of selected photoactive tetrapyrroles positioned to enhance energy transfer by relay. The examination of combinations of different bilin, chlorin and bacteriochlorin cofactors has led to identification of the preconditions for directing energy from the bilin light-harvesting antenna into synthetic protein–cofactor constructs that can be customized for light-activated chemistry in the cell.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3675922.
- Received November 8, 2016.
- Accepted January 16, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.