Cryptochrome Magnetoreception Mechanism Indicates a New Kind of Magnetometer

Xian-li DU, Xiao-jie WANG, Wen-jian WU


Cryptochrome, a blue-light photoreceptor which has high sequence homology to DNA photolyase, is supposed to be the most conceivable magnetoreceptor in avian’s magnetoreception. Its light-response mechanism is proposed to result from photoreduction of a protein-bound flavin chromophore through intramolecular electron transfer. We review the cryptochrome magentoreception focusing on the radical pair mechanism, structure of cryptochromes, theoretical and behavioral evidences and the electron transfer models inner cryptochrome protein. Finally, we analysis the superiority of avian’s magnetosensitivity and point out that the animal’s genius radical pair mechanism may be simulated to develop a new chemical magnetic detection mechanism, or even a new kind of magnetometer, which is different from current magnetic detection technology. Keywords: cryptochrome; radical pair mechanism; signaling pathway; electron transfer


cryptochrome; radical pair mechanism; signaling pathway; electron transfer

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