, Volume 46, Issue 1-2, pp 141-149

The structure and function of the chloroplast photosynthetic membrane — a model for the domain organization

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Recent work on the domain organization of the thylakoid is reviewed and a model for the thylakoid of higher plants is presented. According to this model the thylakoid membrane is divided into three main domains: the stroma lamellae, the grana margins and the grana core (partitions). These have different biochemical compositions and have specialized functions. Linear electron transport occurs in the grana while cyclic electron transport is restricted to the stroma lamellae. This model is based on the following results and considerations. (1) There is no good candidate for a long-range mobile redox carrier between PS II in the grana and PS I in the stroma lamellae. The lateral diffusion of plastoquinone and plastocyanin is severely restricted by macromolecular crowding in the membrane and the lumen respectively. (2) There is an excess of 14±18% chlorophyll associated with PS I over that of PS II. This excess is assumed to be localized in the stroma lamellae where PS I drives cyclic electron transport. (3) For several plant species, the stroma lamellae account for 20±3% of the thylakoid membrane and the grana (including the appressed regions, margins and end membranes) for the remaining 80%. The amount of stroma lamellae (20%) corresponds to the excess (14–18%) of chlorophyll associated with PS I. (4) The model predicts a quantum requirement of about 10 quanta per oxygen molecule evolved, which is in good agreement with experimentally observed values. (5) There are at least two pools of each of the following components: PS I, PS II, cytochrome bf complex, plastocyanin, ATP synthase and plastoquinone. One pool is in the grana and the other in the stroma compartments. So far, it has been demonstrated that the PS I, PS II and cytochrome bf complexes each differ in their respective pools.