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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 9;276(10):6959-66. Epub 2000 Dec 11.

Mass spectrometric resolution of reversible protein phosphorylation in photosynthetic membranes of Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Cellular and Molecular Biology Program and the Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA. aleve@ibk/


The use of mass spectrometry to characterize the phosphorylome, i.e. the constituents of the proteome that become phosphorylated, was demonstrated using the reversible phosphorylation of chloroplast thylakoid proteins as an example. From the analysis of tryptic peptides released from the surface of Arabidopsis thylakoids, the principal phosphoproteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. These studies revealed that the D1, D2, and CP43 proteins of the photosystem II core are phosphorylated at their N-terminal threonines (Thr), the peripheral PsbH protein is phosphorylated at Thr-2, and the mature light-harvesting polypeptides LCHII are phosphorylated at Thr-3. In addition, a doubly phosphorylated form of PsbH modified at both Thr-2 and Thr-4 was detected. By comparing the levels of phospho- and nonphosphopeptides, the in vivo phosphorylation states of these proteins were analyzed under different physiological conditions. None of these thylakoid proteins were completely phosphorylated in the steady state conditions of continuous light or completely dephosphorylated after a long dark adaptation. However, rapid reversible hyperphosphorylation of PsbH at Thr-4 in response to growth in light/dark transitions and a pronounced specific dephosphorylation of the D1, D2, and CP43 proteins during heat shock was detected. Collectively, our data indicate that changes in the phosphorylation of photosynthetic proteins are more rapid during heat stress than during normal light/dark transitions. These mass spectrometry methods offer a new approach to assess the stoichiometry of in vivo protein phosphorylation in complex samples.

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