Concentration-based self-assembly of phycocyanin

Photosynth Res. 2017 Oct;134(1):39-49. doi: 10.1007/s11120-017-0406-7. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


Cyanobacteria light-harvesting complexes can change their structure to cope with fluctuating environmental conditions. Studying in vivo structural changes is difficult owing to complexities imposed by the cellular environment. Mimicking this system in vitro is challenging, as well. The in vivo system is highly concentrated, and handling similar in vitro concentrated samples optically is difficult because of high absorption. In this research, we mapped the cyanobacteria antennas self-assembly pathways using highly concentrated solutions of phycocyanin (PC) that mimic the in vivo condition. PC was isolated from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus vulcanus and measured by several methods. PC has three oligomeric states: hexamer, trimer, and monomer. We showed that the oligomeric state was changed upon increase of PC solution concentration. This oligomerization mechanism may enable photosynthetic organisms to adapt their light-harvesting system to a wide range of environmental conditions.

Keywords: Native mass spectrometry; Oligomerization; Phycocyanin; SAXS; TEM.

MeSH terms

  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Phycocyanin / chemistry*


  • Phycocyanin