Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 7, pp 1257–1270 | Cite as

Breaking biological symmetry in membrane proteins: The asymmetrical orientation of PsaC on the pseudo-C2 symmetric Photosystem I core

  • B. Jagannathan
  • J. H. GolbeckEmail author


The elucidation of assembly pathways of multi-subunit membrane proteins is of growing interest in structural biology. In this study, we provide an analysis of the assembly of the asymmetrically oriented PsaC subunit on the pseudo C2-symmetric Photosystem I core. Based on a comparison of the differences in the NMR solution structure of unbound PsaC with that of the X-ray crystal structure of bound PsaC, and on a detailed analysis of the PsaC binding site surrounding the FX iron-sulfur cluster, two models can be envisioned for what are likely the last steps in the assembly of Photosystem I. Here, we dissect both models and attempt to address heretofore unrecognized issues by proposing a mechanism that includes a thermodynamic perspective. Experimental strategies to verify the models are proposed. In closing, the evolutionary aspects of the assembly process will be considered, with special reference to the structural arrangement of the PsaC binding surface.


PsaC Photosystem I C2-symmetry PsaD stromal proteins reaction center iron-sulfur cluster 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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