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Structure of a photosystem II supercomplex isolated from Prochloron didemni retaining its chlorophyll a/b light-harvesting system.

Prochlorophytes are a class of cyanobacteria that do not use phycobiliproteins as light-harvesting systems, but contain chlorophyll (Chl) a/b-binding Pcb proteins. Recently it was shown that Pcb proteins form an 18-subunit light-harvesting antenna ring around the photosystem I (PSI) trimeric reaction center complex of the prochlorophyte Prochlorococcus marinus SS120. Here we have investigated whether the symbiotic prochlorophyte Prochloron didemni also contains the same supermolecular complex. Using cells isolated directly from its ascidian host, we found no evidence for the presence of the Pcb-PSI supercomplex. Instead we have identified and characterized a supercomplex composed of photosystem II (PSII) and Pcb proteins. We show that 10-Pcb subunits associate with the PSII dimeric reaction center core to form a giant complex having an estimated Mr of 1,500 kDa with dimensions of 210 x 290 A. Five-Pcb subunits flank each long side of the dimer and assuming each binds 13 Chl molecules, increase the antenna size of PSII by approximately 200%. Fluorescence emission studies indicate that energy transfer occurs efficiently from the Pcb antenna. Modeling using the x-ray structure of cyanobacterial PSII suggests that energy transfer to the PSII reaction center is via the Chls bound to the CP47 and CP43 proteins.

Pubmed ID: 12837938


  • Bibby TS
  • Nield J
  • Chen M
  • Larkum AW
  • Barber J


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Data

July 22, 2003

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Structure
  • Molecular Weight
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Prochloron
  • Protein Subunits
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Thylakoids