Occurrence and function of the orange carotenoid protein in photoprotective mechanisms in various cyanobacteria

Clémence Boulay, Leyla Abasova, Christophe Six, Imre Vass, Diana Kirilovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Citations (Scopus)


Excess light is harmful for photosynthetic organisms. The cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 protects itself by dissipating the excess of energy absorbed by the phycobilisome, the water-soluble antenna of Photosystem II, into heat decreasing the excess energy arriving to the reaction centers. Energy dissipation results in a detectable decrease of fluorescence. The soluble Orange Carotenoid Protein (OCP) is essential for this blue-green light induced mechanism. OCP genes appear to be highly conserved among phycobilisome-containing cyanobacteria with few exceptions. Here, we show that only the strains containing a whole OCP gene can perform a blue-light induced photoprotective mechanism under both iron-replete and iron-starvation conditions. In contrast, strains containing only N-terminal and/or C-terminal OCP-like genes, or no OCP-like genes at all lack this light induced photoprotective mechanism and they were more sensitive to high-light illumination. These strains must adopt a different strategy to longer survive under stress conditions. Under iron starvation, the relative decrease of phycobiliproteins was larger in these strains than in the OCP-containing strains, avoiding the appearance of a population of dangerous, functionally disconnected phycobilisomes. The OCP-containing strains protect themselves from high light, notably under conditions inducing the appearance of disconnected phycobilisomes, using the energy dissipation OCP-phycobilisome mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1344-1354
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2008


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Iron starvation
  • Non-photochemical quenching
  • Orange-carotenoid-protein
  • Photoprotection
  • Photosystem II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Occurrence and function of the orange carotenoid protein in photoprotective mechanisms in various cyanobacteria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this