In the lab’s first JBC Review, Jaynee Hart and I have just published an overview of the current state of the field’s understanding of the phototropin class of blue light photoreceptors. Jaynee and I opted to pitch this as a fairly broad overview, noting that JBC‘s readership is almost as broad as the group of people who are interested in phototropins given their intriguing photochemistry, roles in plant biology, and ways that they’ve spurred subsequent work in areas as diverse as structural biology and protein engineering. In doing so, we hoped to share some of the exciting areas where progress has been made – again in diverse topics from crop engineering to mechanistic details of phot structure and function – while also giving our views on some of the frontiers remaining ahead and challenges in answering those.
On a side note, I can’t mention phototropins without very gratefully acknowledging the many contributions to this field played by the late Winslow Briggs, pictured above. We came from very different generations, scientific trainings, and approaches to research to the point that it was extraordinarily unlikely that we’d have ever met or had reasons to interact. But thanks to a couple of chance readings – one day on the beach reading my favorite food science book ever and the other in a PNAS paper quickly read over lunch at the UT Southwestern cafeteria – I ended up reaching out to Winslow to ask him for a LOV domain protein construct to use in a control experiment. That control experiment didn’t work quite as planned, but it happily set up almost twenty years’ worth of discussions and friendship between us (and involving lab and family members, too!) and got us going on a research theme that’s continued since. Thank you again for being a great scientist, role model, and person, Winslow – you are missed! KG