The role of the γ subunit in the photosystem of the lowest-energy phototrophs.

Namoon, Dowrung, Rudling, Nicola M and Canniffe, Daniel P ORCID: 0000-0002-5022-0437
(2022) The role of the γ subunit in the photosystem of the lowest-energy phototrophs. The Biochemical journal, 479 (24). pp. 2449-2463.

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Purple phototrophic bacteria use a 'photosystem' consisting of light harvesting complex 1 (LH1) surrounding the reaction centre (RC) that absorbs far-red-near-infrared light and converts it to chemical energy. Blastochloris species, which harvest light >1000 nm, use bacteriochlorophyll b rather than the more common bacteriochlorophyll a as their major photopigment, and assemble LH1 with an additional polypeptide subunit, LH1γ, encoded by multiple genes. To assign a role to γ, we deleted the four encoding genes in the model Blastochloris viridis. Interestingly, growth under halogen bulbs routinely used for cultivation yielded cells displaying an absorption maximum of 825 nm, similar to that of the RC only, but growth under white light yielded cells with an absorption maximum at 972 nm. HPLC analysis of pigment composition and sucrose gradient fractionation demonstrate that the white light-grown mutant assembles RC-LH1, albeit with an absorption maximum blue-shifted by 46 nm. Wavelengths between 900-1000 nm transmit poorly through the atmosphere due to absorption by water, so our results provide an evolutionary rationale for incorporation of γ; this polypeptide red-shifts absorption of RC-LH1 to a spectral range in which photons are of lower energy but are more abundant. Finally, we transformed the mutant with plasmids encoding natural LH1γ variants and demonstrate that the polypeptide found in the wild type complex red-shifts absorption back to 1018 nm, but incorporation of a distantly related variant results in only a moderate shift. This result suggests that tuning the absorption of RC-LH1 is possible and may permit photosynthesis past its current low-energy limit.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes, Peptides, Bacterial Proteins, Photosynthesis
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2023 11:39
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2023 11:39
DOI: 10.1042/bcj20220508
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