Resonance Raman studies of the thermal denaturation of bacteriorhodopsin from Halobacterium cutirubrum show that the N-retinylidenelysine moiety present in the chromophore is N-protonated. This corroborates an earlier suggestion of Lewis et al. ((1974) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S., 71, 4462-4466). The widely differing excitation profiles of two -CC- stretching modes are explained in terms of the light-initiated reaction cycle in the molecule. Glutaraldehyde fixation of bacteriorhodopsin has no effect on the intensity ratio of the two modes, suggesting that no large motion of the protein is necessary for the photoreaction cycle to occur.
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