Crystal structure of plant light-harvesting complex shows the active, energy-transmitting state.

The EMBO Journal
Tiago BarrosW Kühlbrandt


Plants dissipate excess excitation energy as heat by non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). NPQ has been thought to resemble in vitro aggregation quenching of the major antenna complex, light harvesting complex of photosystem II (LHC-II). Both processes are widely believed to involve a conformational change that creates a quenching centre of two neighbouring pigments within the complex. Using recombinant LHC-II lacking the pigments implicated in quenching, we show that they have no particular role. Single crystals of LHC-II emit strong, orientation-dependent fluorescence with an emission maximum at 680 nm. The average lifetime of the main 680 nm crystal emission at 100 K is 1.31 ns, but only 0.39 ns for LHC-II aggregates under identical conditions. The strong emission and comparatively long fluorescence lifetimes of single LHC-II crystals indicate that the complex is unquenched, and that therefore the crystal structure shows the active, energy-transmitting state of LHC-II. We conclude that quenching of excitation energy in the light-harvesting antenna is due to the molecular interaction with external pigments in vitro or other pigment-protein complexes such as PsbS in vivo, and does not require a conformational change within the co...Continue Reading


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