Primary photoprocess in vision: Minimal motion to reach the photo- and Bathorhodopsin Intermediates
Journal article, 2005
According to time-resolved spectroscopic measurements, the initial step of the photoreaction of rhodopsin occurs with a time constant of approximately 200 fs. The whole or a part of the retinal molecule cannot move any significant distance in such a short time. In this paper, we propose instead a minimal motion that accomplishes the important task of guiding the molecule to a configuration where it can decay to the ground-state surface, with a minimal loss of strain energy. This motion is proposed to involve a -90° twisting of the C11=C12 double bond and a simultaneous twisting around two other double bonds in retinal to minimize the geometrical changes along the reaction path. The ONIOM method (complete active space self-consistent field for retinal and AMBER for the peptides) is used in a chromophore-cavity model to elucidate and confirm important features of the mechanism. The potential energy surface (PES) obtained according to the proposed mechanism show all of the characteristics of a fast photoreaction, meaning a downhill reaction path from the Franck-Condon point to an avoided crossing between S1 and S0. In this motion, only a few carbon and hydrogen atoms move more than 0.3 Å, and the retinal structure is conserved in the protein cavity. We propose that the photorhodopsin intermediate is a retinal molecule formed on the excited-state PES. Bathorhodopsin, however, is a ground-state intermediate, still located inside the protein cavity.