Photophosphorylation and the chemiosmotic perspective

  • André T. Jagendorf
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 20)


Photophosphorylation was discovered in chloroplasts by D. Arnon and coworkers, and in bacterial ‘chromatophores’ (intercytoplasmic membranes) by A. Frenkel. Initial low rates were amplified by adding electron-carrying compounds such as FMN, later shown to support the ‘pseudocyclic’ electron flow. ATP synthesis, and coupling to electron flow, was detected accompanying linear electron flow from H2O to either NADP+ or ferricyanide. Another pattern of electron flow supporting photophosphorylation was that of a cycle around Photosystem I (PS I). Isolation and analysis of the ATP synthase showed, as with mitochondrial and bacterial analogues, an intrinsic membrane complex (CF0) and an extrinsic complex (CF1). CF1 is a latent ATPase, activated additively by the high-energy state of the thylakoids, and by reduction of a disulfide bond on the gamma subunit. Once reduced, ATP synthesis occurs at lower energy levels. The search for an ‘intermediate’ linking electron flow and ATP synthesis led to the discovery of post-illumination ATP synthesis by thylakoids, where turnover occurs in the dark. Once interpreted by P. Mitchell’s chemiosmotic hypothesis, this led to the discovery of light-driven proton uptake into the thylakoid lumen, with accompanying Cl intake and Mg2+ and K+ output. Chemiosmosis was confirmed in several ways, including ATP synthesis in the dark due to an acid-to-base transition of thylakoids, and photophosphorylation accomplished in artificial lipid vesicles containing both the proton-pumping bacterial rhodopsin and a mitochondrial ATPase complex. The now generally accepted chemiosmotic interpretation is able to clarify some other aspects of photosynthesis as well.

Key words

D. Arnon M. Avron ATPase CF1 chemiosmotic hypothesis chloroplasts coupling factor A. Frenkel G. Hind A. Jagendorf R. McCarty P. Mitchell photophosphorylation 


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© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • André T. Jagendorf
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Biology DepartmentCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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