Structural insight into light harvesting for photosystem II in green algae

Nat Plants. 2019 Dec;5(12):1320-1330. doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0543-4. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


Green algae and plants rely on light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) to collect photon energy for oxygenic photosynthesis. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, LHCII molecules associate with photosystem II (PSII) to form various supercomplexes, including the C2S2M2L2 type, which is the largest PSII-LHCII supercomplex in algae and plants that is presently known. Here, we report high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) maps and structural models of the C2S2M2L2 and C2S2 supercomplexes from C. reinhardtii. The C2S2 supercomplex contains an LhcbM1-LhcbM2/7-LhcbM3 heterotrimer in the strongly associated LHCII, and the LhcbM1 subunit assembles with CP43 through two interfacial galactolipid molecules. The loosely and moderately associated LHCII trimers interact closely with the minor antenna complex CP29 to form an intricate subcomplex bound to CP47 in the C2S2M2L2 supercomplex. A notable direct pathway is established for energy transfer from the loosely associated LHCII to the PSII reaction centre, as well as several indirect routes. Structure-based computational analysis on the excitation energy transfer within the two supercomplexes provides detailed mechanistic insights into the light-harvesting process in green algae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / chemistry
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / radiation effects
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Energy Transfer
  • Light
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / genetics
  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / chemistry*
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / genetics
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding


  • Light-Harvesting Protein Complexes
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Plant Proteins
  • Chlorophyll