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Plant Cell. 2003 Sep;15(9):2152-64.

FtsH is involved in the early stages of repair of photosystem II in Synechocystis sp PCC 6803.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.


When plants, algae, and cyanobacteria are exposed to excessive light, especially in combination with other environmental stress conditions such as extreme temperatures, their photosynthetic performance declines. A major cause of this photoinhibition is the light-induced irreversible photodamage to the photosystem II (PSII) complex responsible for photosynthetic oxygen evolution. A repair cycle operates to selectively replace a damaged D1 subunit within PSII with a newly synthesized copy followed by the light-driven reactivation of the complex. Net loss of PSII activity occurs (photoinhibition) when the rate of damage exceeds the rate of repair. The identities of the chaperones and proteases involved in the replacement of D1 in vivo remain uncertain. Here, we show that one of the four members of the FtsH family of proteases (cyanobase designation slr0228) found in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 is important for the repair of PSII and is vital for preventing chronic photoinhibition. Therefore, the ftsH gene family is not functionally redundant with respect to the repair of PSII in this organism. Our data also indicate that FtsH binds directly to PSII, is involved in the early steps of D1 degradation, and is not restricted to the removal of D1 fragments. These results, together with the recent analysis of ftsH mutants of Arabidopsis, highlight the critical role played by FtsH proteases in the removal of damaged D1 from the membrane and the maintenance of PSII activity in vivo.

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