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Biochemistry. 2002 Apr 16;41(15):4872-82.

Molecular architecture of the thylakoid membrane: lipid diffusion space for plastoquinone.

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Institut für Botanik, Schlossgarten 3, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


We have determined the stoichiometric composition of membrane components (lipids and proteins) in spinach thylakoids and have derived the molecular area occupied by these components. From this analysis, the lipid phase diffusion space, the fraction of lipids located in the first protein solvation shell (boundary lipids), and the plastoquinone (PQ) concentration are derived. On the basis of these stoichiometric data, we have analyzed the motion of PQ between photosystem (PS) II and cytochrome (cyt.) bf complexes in this highly protein obstructed membrane (protein area about 70%) using percolation theory. This analysis reveals an inefficient diffusion process. We propose that distinct structural features of the thylakoid membrane (grana formation, microdomains) could help to minimize these inefficiencies and ensure a non-rate limiting PQ diffusion process. A large amount of published evidence supports the idea that higher protein associations exist, especially in grana thylakoids. From the quantification of the boundary lipid fraction (about 60%), we conclude that protein complexes involved in these associations should be spaced by lipids. Lipid-spaced protein aggregations in thylakoids are qualitatively different to previously characterized associations (multisubunit complexes, supercomplexes). We derive a hierarchy of protein and lipid interactions in the thylakoid membrane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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