Photochemical competence of assembled photosystem II core complex in cyanobacterial plasma membrane

Nir Keren, Michelle Liberton, Himadri B. Pakrasi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Cyanobacterial cells have two autonomous internal membrane systems, plasma membrane and thylakoid membrane. In these oxygenic photosynthetic organisms the assembly of the large membrane protein complex photosystem II (PSII) is an intricate process that requires the recruitment of numerous protein subunits and cofactors involved in excitation and electron transfer processes. Precise control of this assembly process is necessary because electron transfer reactions in partially assembled PSII can lead to oxidative damage and degradation of the protein complex. In this communication we demonstrate that the activation of PSII electron transfer reactions in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 takes place sequentially. In this organism partially assembled PSII complexes can be detected in the plasma membrane. We have determined that such PSII complexes can undergo light-induced charge separation and contain a functional electron acceptor side but not an assembled donor side. In contrast, PSII complexes in thylakoid membrane are fully assembled and capable of multiple turnovers. We conclude that PSII reaction center cores assembled in the plasma membrane are photochemically competent and can catalyze single turnovers. We propose that upon transfer of such PSII core complexes to the thylakoid membrane, additional proteins are incorporated followed by binding and activation of various donor side cofactors. Such a stepwise process protects cyanobacterial cells from potentially harmful consequences of performing water oxidation in a partially assembled PSII complex before it reaches its final destination in the thylakoid membrane.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6548-6553
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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