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J Biol Chem. 1999 Oct 22;274(43):30987-94.

Isolation and characterization of photoautotrophic mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii deficient in state transition.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


In photosynthetic cells of higher plants and algae, the distribution of light energy between photosystem I and photosystem II is controlled by light quality through a process called state transition. It involves a reorganization of the light-harvesting complex of photosystem II (LHCII) within the thylakoid membrane whereby light energy captured preferentially by photosystem II is redirected toward photosystem I or vice versa. State transition is correlated with the reversible phosphorylation of several LHCII proteins and requires the presence of functional cytochrome b(6)f complex. Most factors controlling state transition are still not identified. Here we describe the isolation of photoautotrophic mutants of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which are deficient in state transition. Mutant stt7 is unable to undergo state transition and remains blocked in state I as assayed by fluorescence and photoacoustic measurements. Immunocytochemical studies indicate that the distribution of LHCII and of the cytochrome b(6)f complex between appressed and nonappressed thylakoid membranes does not change significantly during state transition in stt7, in contrast to the wild type. This mutant displays the same deficiency in LHCII phosphorylation as observed for mutants deficient in cytochrome b(6)f complex that are known to be unable to undergo state transition. The stt7 mutant grows photoautotrophically, although at a slower rate than wild type, and does not appear to be more sensitive to photoinactivation than the wild-type strain. Mutant stt3-4b is partially deficient in state transition but is still able to phosphorylate LHCII. Potential factors affected in these mutant strains and the function of state transition in C. reinhardtii are discussed.

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