Lipids in the Structure of Photosystem I, Photosystem II and the Cytochrome b6f Complex

  • Jan KernEmail author
  • Athina Zouni
  • Albert Guskov
  • Norbert Krauß
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 30)


This chapter describes the data accumulated in the last decade regarding the specific function of lipids in oxygenic photosynthesis, based on crystal structures of at least 3.0 Å resolution of the main photosynthetic membrane protein—pigment complexes, photosystem I, photosystem II and cytochrome b 6 f. Comparisons with other structures of membrane protein complexes like the bacterial reaction center and the external antenna system from the plant light harvesting complexes II reveal the functional versatility of integral lipids. A detailed structural description of the membrane protein complexes pinpoints the various interactions of integral lipids between protein and pigments (e.g., chlorophylls, carotenoids, quinones) and gives a deep insight into their functional roles. A particular focus in this chapter is on the lipid-filled plastoquinone exchange cavities in photosystem II and cytochrome b 6 f. The differences in extent and lipophilic character of these cavities will be discussed in the light of the resulting plastoqui-none/plastoquinol exchange mechanism. An exceptional feature of PS II is the water splitting reaction enabled by the Mn4Ca cluster. This results in the release of protons to the lumenal aqueous phase, release of electrons to a chain of acceptors, which provides metabolically available reduction equivalents, and release of dioxygen to the atmosphere. The high content of lipids in the interior of photosystem II will be correlated with possible diffusion pathways of the dioxygen and the turnover of the D1 protein, necessary to counteract the photodamage occurring within photosystem II. More structural details of integral lipids derived from higher resolution data from these remarkable membrane protein complexes in combination with data from mutant and/or spectroscopic studies will lead to extended functional insights in the future.


Thylakoid Membrane Oxygenic Photosynthesis Lumenal Side Lipid Head Group Detergent Molecule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.















Rieske iron-sulfur protein


Light harvesting complex II


















Photosystem I


Photosystem II




Plastoquinol 9


Plastoquinone 9


Purple bacterial reaction center


Reaction center




Trans-membrane α-helix





The structural studies of cyanobacterial PS I and PS II were only possible due to the long term funding provided by the Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft in the frame of the SFBs 312 and 498. We wish to thank J. Biesiadka, M. Broser, D. DiFiore, P. Fromme, A. Gabdulkhakov, K. D. Irrgang, P. Jordan, O. Klukas, B. Loll, C. Lüneberg, P. Orth, W. Saenger and W.-D. Schubert who are all former or current colleagues involved in these projects. In addition we wish to commemorate the enthusiastic involvement of H.T. Witt in these projects in earlier years.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Kern
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Athina Zouni
    • 1
  • Albert Guskov
    • 2
  • Norbert Krauß
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Chemie/Max Volmer Laboratorium für Biophysikalische ChemieTechnische Universität BerlinJuni 135Germany
  2. 2.Institut für Chemie und Biochemie/KristallographieFreie Universität BerlinTakustr. 6Germany
  3. 3.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary, University of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Physical Biosciences DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA

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