A Cryptochrome adopts distinct moon- and sunlight states and functions as sun- versus moonlight interpreter in monthly oscillator entrainment
Birgit Poehn, Shruthi Krishnan, Martin Zurl, Aida Coric, Dunja Rokvic, N. Sören Häfker, Elmar Jaenicke, Enrique Arboleda, Lukas Orel, Florian Raible, Eva Wolf & Kristin Tessmar-Raible
The moon’s monthly cycle synchronizes reproduction in countless marine organisms. The mass-spawning bristle worm Platynereis dumerilii uses an endogenous monthly oscillator set by full moon to phase reproduction to specific days. But how do organisms recognize specific moon phases? We uncover that the light receptor L-Cryptochrome (L-Cry) discriminates between different moonlight durations, as well as between sun- and moonlight. A biochemical characterization of purified L-Cry protein, exposed to naturalistic sun- or moonlight, reveals the formation of distinct sun- and moonlight states characterized by different photoreduction- and recovery kinetics of L-Cry’s co-factor Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide. In Platynereis, L-Cry’s sun- versus moonlight states correlate with distinct subcellular localizations, indicating different signaling. In contrast, r-Opsin1, the most abundant ocular opsin, is not required for monthly oscillator entrainment. Our work reveals a photo-ecological concept for natural light interpretation involving a “valence interpreter” that provides entraining photoreceptor(s) with light source and moon phase information.