Atomistic Insights into Cryptochrome Interprotein Interactions

Sarafina M. Kimø, Ida Friis, Ilia A. Solov'yov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


It is striking that the mechanism by which birds sense geomagnetic fields during the biannual migration seasons is not entirely understood. A protein believed to be responsible for avian magnetoreception is the flavoprotein cryptochrome (CRY), which fulfills many of the criteria for a magnetic field sensor. Some experiments, however, indicate that magnetoreception in birds may be disturbed by extremely weak radio frequency fields, an effect that likely cannot be described by an isolated CRY protein. An explanation can possibly be delivered if CRY binds to another protein inside a cell that would possess certain biochemical properties, and it is, therefore, important to identify possible intracellular CRY interaction partners. The goal of this study is to investigate a possible interaction between CRY4 and the iron-sulfur-containing assembly protein (ISCA1) from Erithacus rubecula (European robin), which has recently been proposed to be relevant for magnetic field sensing. The interaction between the proteins is established through classical molecular dynamics simulations for several possible protein-docking modes. The analysis of these simulations concludes that the ISCA1 complex and CRY4 are capable of binding; however, the peculiarities of this binding argue strongly against ISCA1 as relevant for magnetoreception.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)616-628
Publication statusPublished - 21. Aug 2018


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