Structure and assembly mechanism of plant C2S2M2-type PSII-LHCII supercomplex

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Science  25 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, pp. 815-820
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0327

Adapting to the right light

In plants, photosystem II is the first protein complex in the machinery that converts sunlight into chemical energy. It comprises antennae complexes (LHCIIs), which collect the light energy, and a dimeric core that contains the reaction center where water is split into oxygen and protons. Su et al. report cryo-electron microscopy structures of a supercomplex consisting of the dimeric core, two strongly bound LHCIIs, and two moderately bound LHCIIs (see the Perspective by Croce and van Amerongen). Under high-light conditions, the moderately bound LHCIIs might detach to down-regulate the efficiency of light harvesting and prevent damage.

Science, this issue p. 815; see also p. 752


In plants, the photosynthetic machinery photosystem II (PSII) consists of a core complex associated with variable numbers of light-harvesting complexes II (LHCIIs). The supercomplex, comprising a dimeric core and two strongly bound and two moderately bound LHCIIs (C2S2M2), is the dominant form in plants acclimated to limited light. Here we report cryo–electron microscopy structures of two forms of C2S2M2 (termed stacked and unstacked) from Pisum sativum at 2.7- and 3.2-angstrom resolution, respectively. In each C2S2M2, the moderately bound LHCII assembles specifically with a peripheral antenna complex CP24-CP29 heterodimer and the strongly bound LHCII, to establish a pigment network that facilitates light harvesting at the periphery and energy transfer into the core. The high mobility of peripheral antennae, including the moderately bound LHCII and CP24, provides insights into functional regulation of plant PSII.

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