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A structural basis of light energy and electron transfer in biology

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Abstract

Aspects of intramolecular light energy and electron transfer will be discussed for three protein cofactor complexes, whose three-dimensional structures have been elucidated by x-ray crystallography: Components of light harvesting cyanobacterial phycobilisomes, the purple bacterial reaction centre, and the blue multi-copper oxidases. A wealth of functional data is available for these systems which allow specific correlations between structure and function and general conclusions about light energy and electron transfer in biological materials to be made.

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Abbreviations

PBS:

phycobilisomes, light harvesting organelles peripheral to the thylakoid membrane in cyanobacteria, which carry out oxygenic photosynthesis and have photosystems I and II

PE, PEC, PC, APC:

phycoerythrin, phycoerythrocyanin, phycocyanin, allophycocyanin, biliprotein components in PBS with covalently attached tetrapyrrole (bilin) pigments

PS I, II:

photosynthetic reaction centers in chloroplasts and cyanobacteria

RBP:

retinol binding protein

BBP:

bilin (biliverdin IXγ) binding protein inPieris brassicae

Rps. viridis :

bacteriochlorophyll-b containing purple bacterium carrying out anoxygenic photosynthesis

RC:

reaction centre

C, H, L, M:

the four subunits of the reaction centre fromRps. viridis: the cytochrome c subunit (C), with 4 haems displaying two redox potentials (c553, c558) is located on the periplasmic side of the membrane

the L- and M-:

subunits are integrated in the membrane and their polypeptide chains span the membrane with 5 α-helices each

labelled A, B, C, D, E:

they bind the bacteriochlorophyll-b (BChl-b or BC), bacteriopheophytin-b (BPh-b or BP), menaquinone-9 (QA), ubiquinone-9 (UQ, QB) and Fe2+ cofactors

the subscriptsP,A,M,L :

indicate pair, accessory, M-, L-subunit association, respectively

the H-subunit:

is located on the cytoplasmic side and its N-terminal α-helical segment (H) spans the membrane

P680, P960:

primary electron donors in PS II and the RC ofRps. viridis, respectively, indicating the long wavelength absorption maxima

P*, D* :

electronically excited states of P and D LHC, light harvesting complexes

LHa,b :

light harvesting protein pigment complexes in BChl-a,b containing bacteria

Car:

carotenoids

Sor:

Soretbands of Chl and BChl

PCY:

plastocyanin, electron carrier in the photosynthetic apparatus, of plants

LAC:

laccase, oxidase in plants and fungi

AO:

ascorbate oxidase, oxidase in plants

CP:

ceruloplasmin, oxidase in mammalian plasma

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Dedicated to Christa

Nobel Lecture given on 8th December, 1988, by Professor Robert Huber and published inLes Prix Nobel 1988, printed in Sweden by Norstedts Tryckeri, Stockholm, Sweden, 1989, republished here with the permission of the Nobel Foundation, the copyright holder.

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Huber, R. A structural basis of light energy and electron transfer in biology. Biosci Rep 9, 635–673 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01114805

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Key Words

  • Light energy
  • electron transfer
  • X-ray crystallography