The photocycle of dried bacteriorhodopsin, pretreated in a 0.3 M HCl solution, was studied. Some properties of this dried sample resemble that of the acid purple suspension: the retinal conformation is mostly all-trans, 15-anti form, the spectrum of the sample is blue-shifted by 5 nm to 560 nm, and it has a truncated photocycle. After photoexcitation, a K-like red-shifted intermediate appears, which decays to the ground state through several intermediates with spectra between the K and the ground state. There are no other bacteriorhodopsin-like intermediates (L, M, N, O) present in the photocycle. The K to K′ transition proceeds with an enthalpy decrease, whereas during all the following steps, the entropic energy of the system decreases. The electric response signal of the oriented sample has only negative components, which relaxes to zero. These suggest that the steps after intermediate K represent a relaxation process, during which the absorbed energy is dissipated and the protein returns to its original ground state. The initial charge separation on the retinal is followed by limited charge rearrangements in the protein, and later, all these relax. The decay times of the intermediates are strongly influenced by the humidity of the sample. Double-flash experiments proved that all the intermediates are directly driven back to the ground state. The study of the dried acid purple samples could help in understanding the fast primary processes of the protein function. It may also have importance in technical applications.
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