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Plant Cell. 2002 Aug;14(8):1801-16.

A major light-harvesting polypeptide of photosystem II functions in thermal dissipation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Under high-light conditions, photoprotective mechanisms minimize the damaging effects of excess light. A primary photoprotective mechanism is thermal dissipation of excess excitation energy within the light-harvesting complex of photosystem II (LHCII). Although roles for both carotenoids and specific polypeptides in thermal dissipation have been reported, neither the site nor the mechanism of this process has been defined precisely. Here, we describe the physiological and molecular characteristics of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii npq5 mutant, a strain that exhibits little thermal dissipation. This strain is normal for state transition, high light-induced violaxanthin deepoxidation, and low light growth, but it is more sensitive to photoinhibition than the wild type. Furthermore, both pigment data and measurements of photosynthesis suggest that the photosystem II antenna in the npq5 mutant has one-third fewer light-harvesting trimers than do wild-type cells. The npq5 mutant is null for a gene designated Lhcbm1, which encodes a light-harvesting polypeptide present in the trimers of the photosystem II antennae. Based on sequence data, the Lhcbm1 gene is 1 of 10 genes that encode the major LHCII polypeptides in Chlamydomonas. Amino acid alignments demonstrate that these predicted polypeptides display a high degree of sequence identity but maintain specific differences in their N-terminal regions. Both physiological and molecular characterization of the npq5 mutant suggest that most thermal dissipation within LHCII of Chlamydomonas is dependent on the peripherally associated trimeric LHC polypeptides.

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