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, 1857 (3), 309-19

Thylakoid Membrane Function in Heterocysts


Thylakoid Membrane Function in Heterocysts

Ann Magnuson et al. Biochim Biophys Acta.


Multicellular cyanobacteria form different cell types in response to environmental stimuli. Under nitrogen limiting conditions a fraction of the vegetative cells in the filament differentiate into heterocysts. Heterocysts are specialized in atmospheric nitrogen fixation and differentiation involves drastic morphological changes on the cellular level, such as reorganization of the thylakoid membranes and differential expression of thylakoid membrane proteins. Heterocysts uphold a microoxic environment to avoid inactivation of nitrogenase by developing an extra polysaccharide layer that limits air diffusion into the heterocyst and by upregulating heterocyst-specific respiratory enzymes. In this review article, we summarize what is known about the thylakoid membrane in heterocysts and compare its function with that of the vegetative cells. We emphasize the role of photosynthetic electron transport in providing the required amounts of ATP and reductants to the nitrogenase enzyme. In the light of recent high-throughput proteomic and transcriptomic data, as well as recently discovered electron transfer pathways in cyanobacteria, our aim is to broaden current views of the bioenergetics of heterocysts. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Organization and dynamics of bioenergetic systems in bacteria, edited by Conrad Mullineaux.

Keywords: Cyanobacteria; Heterocysts; Nitrogen fixation; Photosystem I; Photosystem II; Phycobilisome.

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