Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 39–49 | Cite as

Concentration-based self-assembly of phycocyanin

  • Ido Eisenberg
  • Dvir Harris
  • Yael Levi-Kalisman
  • Shira Yochelis
  • Asaf Shemesh
  • Gili Ben-Nissan
  • Michal Sharon
  • Uri Raviv
  • Noam Adir
  • Nir Keren
  • Yossi PaltielEmail author
Original Article


Cyanobacteria light-harvesting complexes can change their structure to cope with fluctuating environmental conditions. Studying in vivo structural changes is difficult owing to complexities imposed by the cellular environment. Mimicking this system in vitro is challenging, as well. The in vivo system is highly concentrated, and handling similar in vitro concentrated samples optically is difficult because of high absorption. In this research, we mapped the cyanobacteria antennas self-assembly pathways using highly concentrated solutions of phycocyanin (PC) that mimic the in vivo condition. PC was isolated from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus vulcanus and measured by several methods. PC has three oligomeric states: hexamer, trimer, and monomer. We showed that the oligomeric state was changed upon increase of PC solution concentration. This oligomerization mechanism may enable photosynthetic organisms to adapt their light-harvesting system to a wide range of environmental conditions.


Phycocyanin Oligomerization TEM SAXS Native mass spectrometry 



Light-harvesting complexes








Low salt


Distilled water


Double-distilled water


Transmission electron microscopy


Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy


Small-angle X-ray scattering


Mass spectrometry



This research was supported by a Grant No. 3-12405(151235) from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, Israel, the National Science Council (NSC) of Taiwan, the Israel Science Foundation (843/16) and the US-Israel Bi-National Science Fund (2014395).

Supplementary material

11120_2017_406_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (818 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 818 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ido Eisenberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dvir Harris
    • 3
  • Yael Levi-Kalisman
    • 2
    • 4
  • Shira Yochelis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Asaf Shemesh
    • 2
    • 5
  • Gili Ben-Nissan
    • 6
  • Michal Sharon
    • 6
  • Uri Raviv
    • 2
    • 5
  • Noam Adir
    • 3
  • Nir Keren
    • 7
  • Yossi Paltiel
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Applied Physics DepartmentThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-RamJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.The Center for Nanoscience and NanotechnologyThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-RamJerusalemIsrael
  3. 3.Schulich Faculty of ChemistryTechnion - Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael
  4. 4.The Institute of Life SciencesThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-RamJerusalemIsrael
  5. 5.Institute of ChemistryThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-RamJerusalemIsrael
  6. 6.Department of Biomolecular SciencesWeizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael
  7. 7.Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life SciencesThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat-RamJerusalemIsrael

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