- Nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) is a mechanism of regulating light harvesting that protects the photosynthetic apparatus from photodamage by dissipating excess absorbed excitation energy as heat. In higher plants, the major light-harvesting antenna complex (LHCII) of photosystem (PS) II is directly involved in NPQ. The aggregation of LHCII is proposed to be involved in quenching. However, the lack of success in isolating native LHCII aggregates has limited the direct interrogation of this process.
- An intriguing molecular architecture called the “semi-crystalline photosystem II (PSII) array” has been observed in the thylakoid membranes in vascular plants. It is an array of PSII–light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) supercomplexes that only appears in low light, but its functional role has not been clarified. Here, we identified PSII–LHCII supercomplexes in their monomeric and multimeric forms in low light–acclimated spinach leaves and prepared them using sucrose-density gradient ultracentrifugation in the presence of amphipol A8-35.
- In photosynthetic organisms, photosystem II (PSII) is a large membrane protein complex, consisting of a pair of core complexes surrounded by an array of variable numbers of light-harvesting complex (LHC) II proteins. Previously reported structures of the PSII–LHCII supercomplex of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exhibit significant structural heterogeneity, but recently improved purification methods employing ionic amphipol A8-35 have enhanced supercomplex stability, providing opportunities for determining a more intact structure.
- Photosystem I (PSI) is a large pigment–protein complex mediating light-driven charge separation and generating a highly negative redox potential, which is eventually utilized to produce organic matter. In plants and algae, PSI possesses outer antennae, termed light-harvesting complex I (LHCI), which increase the energy flux to the reaction center. The number of outer antennae for PSI in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is known to be larger than that of land plants. However, their exact number and location remain to be elucidated.
- In green algae, light-harvesting complex stress-related 3 (LHCSR3) is responsible for the pH-dependent dissipation of absorbed light energy, a function vital for survival under high-light conditions. LHCSR3 binds the photosystem II and light-harvesting complex II (PSII–LHCII) supercomplex and transforms it into an energy-dissipative form under acidic conditions, but the molecular mechanism remains unclear. Here we show that in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, LHCSR3 modulates the excitation energy flow and dissipates the excitation energy within the light-harvesting complexes of the PSII supercomplex.