Supramolecular photosystem II organization in grana thylakoid membranes: evidence for a structured arrangement

Biochemistry. 2004 Jul 20;43(28):9204-13. doi: 10.1021/bi0494626.


The distribution of photosystem (PS) II complexes in stacked grana thylakoids derived from electron microscopic images of freeze-fractured chloroplasts are examined for the first time using mathematical methods. These characterize the particle distribution in terms of a nearest neighbor distribution function and a pair correlation function. The data were compared with purely random distributions calculated by a Monte Carlo simulation. The analysis reveals that the PSII distribution in grana thylakoids does not correspond to a random protein mixture but that ordering forces lead to a structured arrangement on a supramolecular level. Neighboring photosystems are significantly more separated than would be the case in a purely random distribution. These results are explained by structural models, in which boundary lipids and light-harvesting complex (LHC) II trimers are arranged between neighboring PSII. Furthermore, the diffusion of PSII was analyzed by a Monte Carlo simulation with a protein density of 80% area occupation (determined for grana membranes). The mobility of the photosystems is severely reduced by the high protein density. From an estimate of the mean migration time of PSII from grana thylakoids to stroma lamellae, it becomes evident that this diffusion contributes significantly to the velocity of the repair cycle of photoinhibited PSII.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chloroplasts
  • Diffusion
  • Dimerization
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / chemistry*
  • Spinacia oleracea
  • Thylakoids / chemistry*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex