, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 15-32

Elucidation of the molecular structures of components of the phycobilisome: reconstructing a giant

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The molecular architectures of photosynthetic complexes are rapidly becoming available through the power of X-ray crystallography. These complexes are comprised of antenna complexes, which absorb and transfer energy into photochemical reaction centers. Most reaction centers, found in both oxygenic and non-oxygenic species, are connected to transmembrane chlorophyll containing antennas, and the crystal structures of these antennas contain information on the structure of the entire complex as well as clear indications on their modes of functional association. In cyanobacteria and red alga, most of the Photosystem II associated light harvesting is performed by an enormous (3–7 MDa) membrane attached complex called the phycobilisome (PBS). While the crystal structures of many isolated components of different PBSs have been determined, the structure of the entire complex as well as its manner of association with Photosystem II can only be suggested. In this review, the structural information obtained on the isolated components will be described. The structural information obtained from the components provides the basis for the modeled reconstruction of this giant complex.