Light-harvesting features revealed by the structure of plant Photosystem I

Adam Ben-Shem, Felix Frolow, Nathan Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Oxygenic photosynthesis is driven by two multi-subunit membrane protein complexes, Photosystem I and Photosystem II. In plants and green algae, both complexes are composed of two moieties: a reaction center (RC), where light-induced charge translocation occurs, and a peripheral antenna that absorbs light and funnels its energy to the reaction center. The peripheral antenna of PS I (LHC I) is composed of four gene products (Lhca 1-4) that are unique among the chlorophyll a/b binding proteins in their pronounced long-wavelength absorbance and in their assembly into dimers. The recently determined structure of plant Photosystem I provides the first relatively high-resolution structural model of a super-complex containing a reaction center and its peripheral antenna. We describe some of the structural features responsible for the unique properties of LHC I and discuss the advantages of the particular LHC I dimerization mode over monomeric or trimeric forms. In addition, we delineate some of the interactions between the peripheral antenna and the reaction center and discuss how they serve the purpose of dynamically altering the composition of LHC I in response to environmental pressure. Combining structural insight with spectroscopic data, we propose how altering LHC I composition may protect PS I from excessive light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation403-02
Israel Science Foundation


    • LHC I
    • Photosystem I
    • evolution
    • light harvesting
    • membrane protein complex
    • photosynthesis
    • red chlorophylls
    • super-complex


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