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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Oct 30;1507(1-3):226-46.

Electron spin echo envelope modulation spectroscopy in photosystem I.

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  • 1Laboratory of Physical Chemistry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Ioannina, Greece.


The applications of electron spin echo envelope modulation (ESEEM) spectroscopy to study paramagnetic centers in photosystem I (PSI) are reviewed with special attention to the novel spectroscopic techniques applied and the structural information obtained. We briefly summarize the physical principles and experimental techniques of ESEEM, the spectral shapes and the methods for their analysis. In PSI, ESEEM spectroscopy has been used to the study of the cation radical form of the primary electron donor chlorophyll species, P(700)(+), and the phyllosemiquinone anion radical, A(1)(-), that acts as a low-potential electron carrier. For P(700)(+), ESEEM has contributed to a debate concerning whether the cation is localized on a one or two chlorophyll molecules. This debate is treated in detail and relevant data from other methods, particularly electron nuclear double resonance (ENDOR), are also discussed. It is concluded that the ESEEM and ENDOR data can be explained in terms of five distinct nitrogen couplings, four from the tetrapyrrole ring and a fifth from an axial ligand. Thus the ENDOR and ESEEM data can be fully accounted for based on the spin density being localized on a single chlorophyll molecule. This does not eliminate the possibility that some of the unpaired spin is shared with the other chlorophyll of P(700)(+); so far, however, no unambiguous evidence has been obtained from these electron paramagnetic resonance methods. The ESEEM of the phyllosemiquinone radical A(1)(-) provided the first evidence for a tryptophan molecule pi-stacked over the semiquinone and for a weaker interaction from an additional nitrogen nucleus. Recent site-directed mutagenesis studies verified the presence of the tryptophan close to A(1), while the recent crystal structure showed that the tryptophan was indeed pi-stacked and that a weak potential H-bond from an amide backbone to one of the (semi)quinone carbonyls is probably the origin of the to the second nitrogen coupling seen in the ESEEM. ESEEM has already played an important role in the structural characterization on PSI and since it specifically probes the radical forms of the chromophores and their protein environment, the information obtained is complimentary to the crystallography. ESEEM then will continue to provide structural information that is often unavailable using other methods.

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