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J Mol Biol. 2003 Aug 15;331(3):681-92.

Lipidic cubic phase crystal structure of the photosynthetic reaction centre from Rhodobacter sphaeroides at 2.35A resolution.

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Department of Molecular Biotechnology, Chalmers University of Technology, P.O. Box 462, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.


Well-ordered crystals of the bacterial photosynthetic reaction centre from Rhodobacter sphaeroides were grown from a lipidic cubic phase. Here, we report the type I crystal packing that results from this crystallisation medium, for which 3D crystals grow as stacked 2D crystals, and the reaction centre X-ray structure is refined to 2.35A resolution. In this crystal form, the location of the membrane bilayer could be assigned with confidence. A cardiolipin-binding site is found at the protein-protein interface within the membrane-spanning region, shedding light on the formation of crystal contacts within the membrane. A chloride-binding site was identified in the membrane-spanning region, which suggests a putative site for interaction with the light-harvesting complex I, the cytochrome bc(1) complex or PufX. Comparisons with the X-ray structures of this reaction centre deriving from detergent-based crystals are drawn, indicating that a slight compression occurs in this lipid-rich environment.

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