The specificity of controlled protein disorder in the photoprotection of plants

Tjaart P.J. Krüger*, Cristian Ilioaia, Matthew P. Johnson, Erica Belgio, Peter Horton, Alexander V. Ruban, Rienk Van Grondelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Light-harvesting pigment-protein complexes of photosystem II of plants have a dual function: they efficiently use absorbed energy for photosynthesis at limiting sunlight intensity and dissipate the excess energy at saturating intensity for photoprotection. Recent single-molecule spectroscopy studies on the trimeric LHCII complex showed that environmental control of the intrinsic protein disorder could in principle explain the switch between their light-harvesting and photoprotective conformations in vivo. However, the validity of this proposal depends strongly on the specificity of the protein dynamics. Here, a similar study has been performed on the minor monomeric antenna complexes of photosystem II (CP29, CP26, and CP24). Despite their high structural homology, similar pigment content and organization compared to LHCII trimers, the environmental response of these proteins was found to be rather distinct. A much larger proportion of the minor antenna complexes were present in permanently weakly fluorescent states under most conditions used; however, unlike LHCII trimers the distribution of the single-molecule population between the strongly and weakly fluorescent states showed no significant sensitivity to low pH, zeaxanthin, or low detergent conditions. The results support a unique role for LHCII trimers in the regulation of light harvesting by controlled fluorescence blinking and suggest that any contribution of the minor antenna complexes to photoprotection would probably involve a distinct mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1026
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2013


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