Under excess light, photosynthetic organisms employ feedback mechanisms to avoid photodamage. Photoprotection is triggered by acidification of the lumen of the photosynthetic membrane following saturation of the metabolic activity. A low pH triggers thermal dissipation of excess absorbed energy by the light-harvesting complexes (LHCs). LHCs are not able to sense pH variations, and their switch to a dissipative mode depends on stress-related proteins and allosteric cofactors. In green algae the trigger is the pigment–protein complex LHCSR3. Its C-terminus is responsible for a pH-driven conformational change from a light-harvesting to a quenched state. Here, we show that by replacing the C-terminus of the main LHC of plants with that of LHCSR3, it is possible to regulate its excited-state lifetime solely via protonation, demonstrating that the protein template of LHCs can be modified to activate reversible quenching mechanisms independent of external cofactors and triggers.
- PH REGULATION