, Volume 192, Issue 4, pp 581–589

Localization of the xanthophyll-cycle enzyme violaxanthin de-epoxidase within the thylakoid lumen and abolition of its mobility by a (light-dependent) pH decrease

  • A. Hager
  • K. Holocher

DOI: 10.1007/BF00203597

Cite this article as:
Hager, A. & Holocher, K. Planta (1994) 192: 581. doi:10.1007/BF00203597


The formation of zeaxanthin (Zea) from violaxanthin (Vio) in chloroplasts of leaves and algae upon strong illumination is currently suggested to play a role in the photoprotection of plants. Properties and location of the enzyme Vio de-epoxidase, which is responsible for the transformation of Vio to Zea, were studied using thylakoid membrane vesicles isolated from leaves of Spinacia oleracea L. Without using detergents a repeated freeze-thaw treatment of thylakoid vesicles was sufficient to release the enzyme into the medium. With the same procedure the mobile electron carrier plastocyanin, known to occur in the thylakoid lumen, was also released. The enzyme was demonstrated by its activity in the supernatant of the pelleted thylakoid vesicles in the presence of the added substrates Vio and ascorbic acid, as well as by staining of the released proteins after polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The release of the deepoxidase from the vesicles was pH-dependent, declined below pH 6.5 and ceased in the pH range around 5, which corresponds to the pH optimum of the enzyme activity. By using thylakoid vesicles isolated from pre-illuminated and therefore Zea-containing leaves the release by freeze-thaw cycles of both the de-epoxidase and plastocyanin was diminished compared with the dark control. However, the reason for this effect was not the Zea content but an unknown effect of the illumination on the thylakoid membrane properties. The de-epoxidase collected at pH 7 was able to re-bind to thylakoid membranes at pH 5.5 and to transform intrinsic Vio to Zea in the presence of ascorbate. The isolated de-epoxidase, as well as the endogenous membrane-bound de-epoxidase, was inhibited by dithiothreitol. From these results it is concluded that Vio de-epoxidase, like plastocyanin, is mobile within the thylakoid lumen at neutral pH values which occur under in-vivo conditions in the dark. However, upon strong illumination, when the lumen pH drops (pH < 6.5) due to the formation of a proton gradient, the properties of the de-epoxidase are altered and the enzyme becomes tightly bound to the membrane (in contrast to plastocyanin) thus gaining access to its substrate Vio. These findings corroborate the assumption of a transmembrane opposite location of the two enzymes of the xanthophyll cycle, the ascorbate-dependent Vio deepoxidase at the lumenal side and the NADPH-dependent Zea epoxidase at the stromal side. Indications in favour of a location of Vio within the lipid bilayer of the thylakoid membrane and of a binding of the active deepoxidase to these areas are discussed.

Key words

Photoprotection Photosynthesis, energy dissipation Plastocyanin Spinacia Violaxanthin deepoxidase Xanthophyll cycle Zeaxanthin 








Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Hager
    • 1
  • K. Holocher
    • 1
  1. 1.Botanisches InstitutUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany

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