The Organization of Photosynthetic Enzymes on the Chloroplast Membrane

  • David W. Krogmann


Early observations with the light microscope indicated that the chloroplast is the site of photosynthesis in the higher plant cell. The chloroplast contains all of the chlorophyll which must absorb light energy for the process. After illumination of an intact leaf previously held in darkness, the chloroplast is seen to contain new starch grains which are an obvious end product of photosynthesis. Electron microscopy reveals the chloroplast as bounded by a limiting membrane or outer envelope and containing within a complex series of membranes or lamellae (Figure 1). It appears that many of the enzymes involved in the conversion of carbon dioxide into starch and other reduced products of photosynthesis are loosely held within the chloroplast. These enzymes may reside in the stroma or matrix space within the chloroplast and are readily released on rupture of the outer envelope. One enzyme of the carbon reduction path is clearly associated with the lamellar membrane surface. The enzyme ribulose diphosphate carboxylase is quite large (mol. wt. 550,000) and can be recognized as a 120 Å cuboidal particle on the outer surface of the lamellae. The detailed catalytic properties of this enzyme are only beginning to emerge, and one can expect that enzyme-membrane interaction will be an interesting study when both the pure ribulose diphosphate carboxylase and the membrane become a bit more manageable. At present there is no evidence that association with membrane structure, other than containment within the chloroplast outer envelope, imposes any special influences on the carbon reduction pathways of photosynthesis.


Coupling Factor Spinach Chloroplast Chloroplast Membrane Outer Envelope Intact Chloroplast 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Krogmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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