, Volume 86, Issue 1-2, pp 101-111

Isolation and Characterization of Carotenosomes from a Bacteriochlorophyll c-less Mutant ofChlorobium tepidum

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Chlorosomes are the light-harvesting organelles in photosynthetic green bacteria and typically contain large amounts of bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) c in addition to smaller amounts of BChl a, carotenoids, and several protein species. We have isolated vestigial chlorosomes, denoted carotenosomes, from a BChl c-less, bchK mutant of the green sulfur bacterium Chlorobium tepidum. The physical shape of the carotenosomes (86 ± 17 nm × 66 ± 13 nm × 4.3 ± 0.8 nm on average) was reminiscent of a flattened chlorosome. The carotenosomes contained carotenoids, BChl a, and the proteins CsmA and CsmD in ratios to each other comparable to their ratios in wild-type chlorosomes, but all other chlorosome proteins normally found in wild-type chlorosomes were found only in trace amounts or were not detected. Similar to wild-type chlorosomes, the CsmA protein in the carotenosomes formed oligomers at least up to homo-octamers as shown by chemical cross-linking and immunoblotting. The absorption spectrum of BChl a in the carotenosomes was also indistinguishable from that in wild-type chlorosomes. Energy transfer from the bulk carotenoids to BChl a in carotenosomes was poor. The results indicate that the carotenosomes have an intact baseplate made of remarkably stable oligomeric CsmA–BChl a complexes but are flattened in structure due to the absence of BChl c. Carotenosomes thus provide a valuable material for studying the biogenesis, structure, and function of the photosynthetic antennae in green bacteria.