Recombinant Light Harvesting Complexes: Views and Perspectives

  • Erica BelgioEmail author
  • Alexander V. Ruban


This review introduces to the method of in vitro reconstitution of pigment-protein complexes of higher plants, a technique which allows for the assembly of functional antenna proteins starting from free pigments and bacterially-expressed apoprotein. After discussing the reconstitution method itself, the key elements required for it (xanthophylls and chlorophyll b) and the timescales of the process, a few examples of the achievements made by using recombinant proteins are presented. Site-directed mutagenesis of chlorophyll-binding residues of recombinant complexes provided an important contribution to the field of photosynthesis by allowing the identification of the transition energy levels of individual chromophores. Progress has also been made employing recombinant antenna complexes in photovoltaic applications (quantum dots and Ti2O catalyst), a recent and still largely unexplored field of research. Finally, the recent use of luminal loop mutants of LHCII for the study of the non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) mechanism, one of the most studied phenomena in photosynthesis, revealed insights into how NPQ is triggered by low pH. It is proposed that reconstituting the NPQ locus in vitro in liposomes with a natural thylakoid membrane lipid composition, containing purified/recombinant LHCII, minor antennae and PsbS in various combinations and concentrations may clarify how the NPQ mechanism works at a molecular level


Pigment-protein reconstitution Site-directed mutagenesis Chlorophyll binding site Mixed sites Non-photochemical quenching Fluorescence Aggregation quenching Molecular switch Proteo-liposomes Artificial photosynthesis 



chlorophyll binding protein










freeze-fracture electron microscopy






highest occupied molecular orbital


high pressure liquid chromatography




light harvesting complex II


lowest unoccupied molecular orbital


Nickel- Nitrilotriacetic acid


Nuclear magnetic resonance


non-photochemical quenching


Octyl β-D-glucopyranoside


photosystem II




quantum dot




room temperature


sodium-dodecyl sulphate






wild type





This work was supported by The Leverhulme Trust Research Grant RPG-2012-478 awarded to AVR.

Conflict of Interest

None Declared.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Autotrophic Microorganisms – ALGATECHInstitute of Microbiology ASCRTřeboňCzech Republic

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