Protein dynamics play a major role for the catalytic function of enzymes, the interaction of protein complexes or signal integration in regulatory proteins. In the context of multi-domain proteins involved in light-regulation of enzymatic effectors, the central role of conformational dynamics is well established. Light activation of sensory modules is followed by long-range signal transduction to different effectors; rather than domino-style structural rearrangements, a complex interplay of functional elements is required to maintain functionality. One family of such sensor-effector systems are red-light-regulated phytochromes that control diguanylate cyclases involved in cyclic-dimeric-GMP formation. Based on structural and functional studies of one prototypic family member, the central role of the coiled-coil sensor-effector linker was established. Interestingly, subfamilies with different linker lengths feature strongly varying biochemical characteristics. The dynamic interplay of the domains involved, however, is presently not understood. Here we show that the PHY domain dimer interface plays an essential role in signal integration, and that a functional coupling with the coiled-coil linker element is crucial. Chimaeras of two biochemically different family members highlight the phytochrome-spanning helical spine as an essential structural element involved in light-dependent upregulation of enzymatic turnover. However, isolated structural elements can frequently not be assigned to individual characteristics, which further emphasises the importance of global conformational dynamics. Our results provide insights into the intricate processes at play during light signal integration and transduction in these photosensory systems and thus provide additional guidelines for a more directed design of novel sensor-effector combinations with potential applications as optogenetic tools.