LHCSR3 is a nonphotochemical quencher of both photosystems in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 5;116(10):4212-4217. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809812116. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Photosynthetic organisms prevent oxidative stress from light energy absorbed in excess through several photoprotective mechanisms. A major component is thermal dissipation of chlorophyll singlet excited states and is called nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). NPQ is catalyzed in green algae by protein subunits called LHCSRs (Light Harvesting Complex Stress Related), homologous to the Light Harvesting Complexes (LHC), constituting the antenna system of both photosystem I (PSI) and PSII. We investigated the role of LHCSR1 and LHCSR3 in NPQ activation to verify whether these proteins are involved in thermal dissipation of PSI excitation energy, in addition to their well-known effect on PSII. To this aim, we measured the fluorescence emitted at 77 K by whole cells in a quenched or unquenched state, using green fluorescence protein as the internal standard. We show that NPQ activation by high light treatment in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii leads to energy quenching in both PSI and PSII antenna systems. By analyzing quenching properties of mutants affected on the expression of LHCSR1 or LHCSR3 gene products and/or state 1-state 2 transitions or zeaxanthin accumulation, namely, npq4, stt7, stt7 npq4, npq4 lhcsr1, lhcsr3-complemented npq4 lhcsr1 and npq1, we showed that PSI undergoes NPQ through quenching of the associated LHCII antenna. This quenching event is fast-reversible on switching the light off, is mainly related to LHCSR3 activity, and is dependent on thylakoid luminal pH. Moreover, PSI quenching could also be observed in the absence of zeaxanthin or STT7 kinase activity.

Keywords: LHCSR; NPQ; microalgae; photoprotection; photosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / genetics
  • Algal Proteins / metabolism
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / genetics
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / genetics
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Zeaxanthins / metabolism


  • Algal Proteins
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Chlorophyll
  • Protein Kinases
  • light-harvesting complex II kinase