Regular Paper

Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 95, Issue 2, pp 279-284

First online:

The PucC protein of Rhodobacter capsulatus mitigates an inhibitory effect of light-harvesting 2 α and β proteins on light-harvesting complex 1

  • Paul R. JaschkeAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia
  • , Heidi N. LeBlancAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British ColumbiaMedarex, Inc
  • , Andrew S. LangAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • , J. Thomas BeattyAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia Email author 

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Rhodobacter capsulatus contains lhaA and pucC genes that have been implicated in light-harvesting complex 1 and 2 (LH1 and LH2) assembly. The proteins encoded by these genes, and homologues in other photosynthetic organisms, have been classified as the bacteriochlorophyll delivery (BCD) family of the major facilitator superfamily. A new BCD family phylogenetic tree reveals that several PucC, LhaA and Orf428-related sequences each form separate clusters, while plant and cyanobacterial homologues cluster more distantly. The PucC protein is encoded in the pucBACDE superoperon which also codes for LH2 α (PucA) and β (PucB) proteins. PucC was previously shown to be necessary for formation of LH2. This article gives evidence indicating that PucC has a shepherding activity that keeps the homologous α and β proteins of LH1 and LH2 apart, allowing LH1 to assemble properly. This shepherding function was indicated by a 62% reduction in LH1 levels in ΔLHII strains carrying plasmids encoding pucBA along with a C-terminally truncated pucC gene. More severe reductions in LH1 were seen when the truncated pucC gene was co-expressed in the presence of C-terminal PucC::PhoA fusion proteins. It appears that interaction between truncated PucC::PhoA fusion proteins and the truncated PucC protein disrupts LH1 assembly, pointing towards a PucC dimeric or multimeric functional unit.


Photosynthesis Purple bacteria Light-harvesting LH1 LH2 Rhodobacter PucC LhaA Bacteriochlorophyll delivery homologues Complex-specific assembly factors