Microbial rhodopsins are photoreceptive membrane proteins, which are used as molecular tools in optogenetics. Here, a machine learning (ML)-based experimental design method is introduced for screening rhodopsins that are likely to be red-shifted from representative rhodopsins in the same subfamily. Among 3,022 ion-pumping rhodopsins that were suggested by a protein BLAST search in several protein databases, the ML-based method selected 65 candidate rhodopsins. The wavelengths of 39 of them were able to be experimentally determined by expressing proteins with the Escherichia coli system, and 32 (82%, p = 7.025 × 10−5) actually showed red-shift gains. In addition, four showed red-shift gains >20 nm, and two were found to have desirable ion-transporting properties, indicating that they would be potentially useful in optogenetics. These findings suggest that data-driven ML-based approaches play effective roles in the experimental design of rhodopsin and other photobiological studies. (141/150 words).
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