Life of Photosynthetic Complexes in the Cyanobacterium <i>Synechocystis</i> sp. PCC 6803
The cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 performs oxygenic photosynthesis. Light energy conversion in photosynthesis takes place in photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII) that contain chlorophyll, which absorbs light energy that is utilized as a driving force for photosynthesis. However, excess light energy may lead to formation of reactive oxygen species that cause damage to photosynthetic complexes, which subsequently need repair or replacement. To gain insight in the degradation/biogenesis dynamics of the photosystems, the lifetimes of photosynthetic proteins and chlorophyll were determined by a combined stable-isotope (15N) and mass spectrometry method. The lifetimes of PSII and PSI proteins ranged from 1-33 and 30-75 hours, respectively. Interestingly, chlorophyll had longer lifetimes than the chlorophyll-binding proteins in these photosystems. Therefore, photosynthetic proteins turn over and are replaced independently from each other, and chlorophyll is recycled from the damaged chlorophyll-binding proteins.
In Synechocystis, there are five small Cab-like proteins (SCPs: ScpA-E) that share chlorophyll a/b-binding motifs with LHC proteins in plants. SCPs appear to transiently bind chlorophyll and to regulate chlorophyll biosynthesis. In this study, the association of ScpB, ScpC, and ScpD with damaged and repaired PSII was demonstrated. Moreover, in a mutant lacking SCPs, most PSII protein lifetimes were unaffected but the lifetime of chlorophyll was decreased, and one of the nascent PSII complexes was missing. SCPs appear to bind PSII chlorophyll while PSII is repaired, and SCPs stabilize nascent PSII complexes. Furthermore, aminolevulinic acid biosynthesis, an early step of chlorophyll biosynthesis, was impaired in the absence of SCPs, so that the amount of chlorophyll in the cells was reduced.
Finally, a deletion mutation was introduced into the sll1906 gene, encoding a member of the putative bacteriochlorophyll delivery (BCD) protein family. The Sll1906 sequence contains possible chlorophyll-binding sites, and its homolog in purple bacteria functions in proper assembly of light-harvesting complexes. However, the sll1906 deletion did not affect chlorophyll degradation/biosynthesis and photosystem assembly. Other (parallel) pathways may exist that may fully compensate for the lack of Sll1906. This study has highlighted the dynamics of photosynthetic complexes in their biogenesis and turnover and the coordination between synthesis of chlorophyll and photosynthetic proteins.