Structure of the maize photosystem I supercomplex with light-harvesting complexes I and II

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Science  08 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6393, pp. 1109-1113
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1156

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Antenna switches partners in the shade

A cloudy day or an overshadowing tree causes fluctuations in light that can throw off the balance of energy flow in plant photosystems I and II (PSI and PSII). Pan et al. solved structures of PSI bound to two light-harvesting complexes (LHCs). One LHC is permanently associated with PSI. The other LHC delivers light energy to PSII under optimal conditions but can switch to a PSI-associated state after phosphorylation by a kinase that senses the redox environment of the chloroplast. The movement of LHCs between the photosystems helps maintain even energy flux. Two chlorophyll-containing subunits are visible in the structure that connect the PSI core to each LHC.

Science, this issue p. 1109


Plants regulate photosynthetic light harvesting to maintain balanced energy flux into photosystems I and II (PSI and PSII). Under light conditions favoring PSII excitation, the PSII antenna, light-harvesting complex II (LHCII), is phosphorylated and forms a supercomplex with PSI core and the PSI antenna, light-harvesting complex I (LHCI). Both LHCI and LHCII then transfer excitation energy to the PSI core. We report the structure of maize PSI-LHCI-LHCII solved by cryo–electron microscopy, revealing the recognition site between LHCII and PSI. The PSI subunits PsaN and PsaO are observed at the PSI-LHCI interface and the PSI-LHCII interface, respectively. Each subunit relays excitation to PSI core through a pair of chlorophyll molecules, thus revealing previously unseen paths for energy transfer between the antennas and the PSI core.

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