Single-molecule spectroscopy reveals photosynthetic LH2 complexes switch between emissive states

Schlau-Cohen, G.S., Wang, Q., Southall, J., Cogdell, R.J. and Moerner, W.E. (2013) Single-molecule spectroscopy reveals photosynthetic LH2 complexes switch between emissive states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(27), pp. 10899-10903. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1310222110)

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Abstract

Photosynthetic organisms flourish under low light intensities by converting photoenergy to chemical energy with near unity quantum efficiency and under high light intensities by safely dissipating excess photoenergy and deleterious photoproducts. The molecular mechanisms balancing these two functions remain incompletely described. One critical barrier to characterizing the mechanisms responsible for these processes is that they occur within proteins whose excited-state properties vary drastically among individual proteins and even within a single protein over time. In ensemble measurements, these excited-state properties appear only as the average value. To overcome this averaging, we investigate the purple bacterial antenna protein light harvesting complex 2 (LH2) from Rhodopseudomonas acidophila at the single-protein level. We use a room-temperature, single-molecule technique, the anti-Brownian electrokinetic trap, to study LH2 in a solution-phase (nonperturbative) environment. By performing simultaneous measurements of fluorescence intensity, lifetime, and spectra of single LH2 complexes, we identify three distinct states and observe transitions occurring among them on a timescale of seconds. Our results reveal that LH2 complexes undergo photoactivated switching to a quenched state, likely by a conformational change, and thermally revert to the ground state. This is a previously unobserved, reversible quenching pathway, and is one mechanism through which photosynthetic organisms can adapt to changes in light intensities.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cogdell, Professor Richard
Authors: Schlau-Cohen, G.S., Wang, Q., Southall, J., Cogdell, R.J., and Moerner, W.E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Journal Abbr.:Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
ISSN (Online):1091-6490

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