Evolution of photosystem I - from symmetry through pseudo-symmetry to asymmetry

FEBS Lett. 2004 Apr 30;564(3):274-80. doi: 10.1016/S0014-5793(04)00360-6.


The evolution of photosystem (PS) I was probably initiated by the formation of a homodimeric reaction center similar to the one currently present in green bacteria. Gene duplication has generated a heterodimeric reaction center that subsequently evolved to the PSI present in cyanobacteria, algae and plant chloroplasts. During the evolution of PSI several attempts to maximize the efficiency of light harvesting took place in the various organisms. In the Chlorobiaceae, chlorosomes and FMO were added to the homodimeric reaction center. In cyanobacteria phycobilisomes and CP43' evolved to cope with the light limitations and stress conditions. The plant PSI utilizes a modular arrangement of membrane light-harvesting proteins (LHCI). We obtained structural information from the two ends of the evolutionary spectrum. Novel features in the structure of Chlorobium tepidum FMO are reported in this communication. Our structure of plant PSI reveals that the addition of subunit G provided the template for LHCI binding, and the addition of subunit H prevented the possibility of trimer formation and provided a binding site for LHCII and the onset of energy spillover from PSII to PSI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Chlorobium / chemistry
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Duplication
  • Models, Molecular
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / chemistry*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / genetics*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Subunits