Isolation and characterization of lamellar aggregates of LHCII and LHCII-lipid macro-assemblies with light-inducible structural transitions.

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We describe the method of isolation of loosely stacked lamellar aggregates of LHCII that are capable of undergoing light-induced reversible structural changes, similar to those in granal thylakoid membranes (LHCII, the main chlorophyll a/b light-harvesting antenna complex of photosystem II). This unexpected structural flexibility of the antenna complexes depends largely on the lipid content that is retained during the isolation. As revealed by circular dichroism, in lipid-LHCII aggregates, the pigment-pigment interactions are very similar to those in the thylakoid membranes, while they differ significantly from those in solubilized trimers. The essence of the procedure is to adjust--for the plant material used--the proper conditions of detergent solubilization and purification that are mild enough for the associated lipids but provide sufficient purity. Microcrystals and most other LHCII preparations, which are more delipidated, are not capable of similar changes. The light-induced structural reorganizations can be enhanced by the addition of different thylakoid lipids, which--depending on the lipid species--also lead to the transformation of the lamellar structure. The preparation of different LHCII-lipid macro-assemblies is also described. Both in structurally flexible LHCII preparations and in thylakoids, the changes originate from a thermo-optic effect: fast local thermal transients, T-jumps, due to the dissipation of the (excess) excitation energy, which lead to elementary structural transitions in the close vicinity of the dissipating centers. This can occur because thylakoids and structurally flexible LHCII assemblies, but, e.g., not the microcrystals, exhibit a thermal instability below the denaturation temperature, and thus (local) heating leads to reorganizations without the loss of the molecular architecture of the constituents. We also list the main biochemical and biophysical techniques that can be used for testing the structural flexibility of LHCII, and discuss the potential physiological significance of the structural changes in light adaptation and photoprotection of plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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