Animal and microbial retinal proteins employ the Schiff base of retinal as their chromophore. Here, the possible consequences of the charge translocation associated with the light-induced dynamics of the chromophore of a visual opsin are investigated along a representative semiclassical trajectory. We show that the evolution of the electrostatic potential projected by the chromophore onto the surrounding protein displays intense but topographically localized sudden variations in proximity of the decay region. pKa calculations carried out on selected snapshots used as probes, indicate that the only residue which may be sensitive to the electrostatic potential shift is Glu181. Accordingly, our results suggest that the frail Tyr191/268-Glu181-Wat2-Ser186 hydrogen bond network may be perturbed by the transient variations of the electrostatic potential.
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© 2016 American Chemical Society.