Chemical Dynamics in Proteins: The Photoisomerization of Retinal in Bacteriorhodopsin

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Abstract

Chemical dynamics in proteins are discussed, with bacteriorhodopsin serving as a model system.Ultrafast time-resolved methods used to probe the chemical dynamics of retinal photoisomerization in bacteriorhodopsin are discussed, along with future prospects for ultrafast time-resolved crystallography. The photoisomerization of retinal in bacteriorhodopsin is far more selective and efficient than in solution, the origins of which are discussed in the context of a three-state model for the photoisomerization reaction coordinate. The chemical dynamics are complex, with the excited-state relaxation exhibiting a multiexponential decay with well-defined rate constants. Possible origins for the two major components are also discussed.

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