PerspectiveBiochemistry

One step closer to O2

Science  15 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6198, pp. 736
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258008

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Summary

Photosynthetic organisms such as plants use the protein complex photosystem II (PS II) to split water using the energy of photons, generating molecular oxygen as a by-product. This photon-powered chemistry is a paradigm for developing catalysts for solar-generated fuels. Recent x-ray structures (1) have provided a detailed picture of the water-splitting 4 Mn–1 Ca cluster of PS II (see the figure); this cluster goes through a number of states during photosynthesis. On page 804 of this issue, Cox et al. (2) present electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) results providing details of the state that is only one photon away from producing O2. The results get us closer to understanding this key reaction.