In cyanobacteria, strong blue-green light induces a photoprotective mechanism involving an increase of energy thermal dissipation at the level of phycobilisome (PB), the cyanobacterial antenna. This leads to a decrease of the energy arriving to the reaction centers. The photoactive Orange Carotenoid Protein (OCP) has an essential role in this mechanism. The binding of the red photoactivated OCP to the core of the PB triggers energy and PB fluorescence quenching. The core of PBs is constituted of allophycocyanin trimers emitting at 660 or 680nm. ApcD, ApcF and ApcE are the responsible of the 680nm emission. In this work, the role of these terminal emitters in the photoprotective mechanism was studied. Single and double Synechocystis PCC 6803 mutants, in which the apcD or/and apcF genes were absent, were constructed. The Cys190 of ApcE which binds the phycocyanobilin was replaced by a Ser. The mutated ApcE attached an unusual chromophore emitting at 710nm. The activated OCP was able to induce the photoprotective mechanism in all the mutants. Moreover, in vitro reconstitution experiments showed similar amplitude and rates of fluorescence quenching. Our results demonstrated that ApcD, ApcF and ApcE are not required for the OCP-related fluorescence quenching and they strongly suggested that the site of quenching is one of the APC trimers emitting at 660nm. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Photosynthesis Research for Sustainability: from Natural to Artificial.
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