Assembly of two subunits of the cyanobacterial photosystem I on the n-side of thylakoid membranes

Parag R. Chitnis, Nathan Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Photosystem I contains several peripheral membrane proteins that are located on either positive (luminal) or negative (stromal or cytoplasmic) sides of thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts or cyanobacteria. Incorporation of two peripheral subunits into photosystem I of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis species PCC 6803 was studied using a reconstitution system in which radiolabeled subunits II (PsaD) and IV (PsaE) were synthesized in vitro and incubated with the isolated thylakoid membranes. After such incubation, the subunits were found in the membranes and were resistant to digestion with proteases and removal by 2 molar NaBr. All of the radioactive proteins incorporated in the membrane were found in the photosystem I complex. The subunit II was assembled specifically into cyanobacterial thylakoid membranes and not into Escherichia coli cell membranes or thylakoid membranes isolated from spinach. The assembly process did not require ATP or proton motive force, and it was not stimulated by ATP. The assembly of subunits II and IV into thylakoid membranes isolated from the strain AEK2, which lacks the gene psaE, was increased two- to threefold. The incorporation of subunit II was 15 to 17 times higher in the thylakoids obtained from the strain ADK3 in which the gene psaD has been inactivated. However, assembly of subunit IV in the same thylakoids was reduced by 65%, demonstrating that the presence of subunit II is required for the stable assembly of subunit IV. Large deletions in subunit II prevented its incorporation into thylakoids and assembly into photosystem I, suggesting that the overall conformation of the protein rather than a specific targeting sequence is required for its assembly into photosystem I.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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