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Nature. 2001 Aug 16;412(6848):743-5.

Iron deficiency induces the formation of an antenna ring around trimeric photosystem I in cyanobacteria.

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Wolfson Laboratories, Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, London, UK.


Although iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, its concentration in the aquatic ecosystems-particularly the open oceans-is sufficiently low to limit photosynthetic activity and phytoplankton growth. Cyanobacteria, a major class of phytoplankton, respond to iron deficiency by expressing the 'iron-stress-induced' gene, isiA(ref. 3). The protein encoded by this gene has an amino-acid sequence that shows significant homology with one of the chlorophyll a-binding proteins (CP43) of photosystem II (PSII). The precise function of the CP43-like protein, here called CP43', has not been elucidated, although there have been many suggestions. Here we show that CP43' associates with photosystem I (PSI) to form a complex that consists of a ring of 18 CP43' molecules around a PSI trimer. This significantly increases the size of the light-harvesting system of PSI. The utilization of a PSII-like protein as an extra antenna for PSI emphasises the flexibility of cyanobacterial light-harvesting systems, and seems to be a strategy which compensates for the lowering of phycobilisome and PSI levels in response to iron deficiency.

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