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Trends Biochem Sci. 1992 Jan;17(1):12-7.

How does protein phosphorylation regulate photosynthesis?

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Department of Biology, University of Oslo, Norway.


Phosphorylation of light-harvesting antenna proteins redirects absorbed light energy between reaction centres of photosynthetic membranes. A generally accepted explanation for this is that electrostatic forces drive the more negatively charged, phosphorylated antenna proteins between membrane domains that differ in surface charge. However, structural studies on soluble phosphoproteins indicate that phosphorylated amino acid side chains have specific effects on molecular recognition, by ligand blocking or by intramolecular interactions which alter protein structure. These studies suggest alternative mechanisms for phosphorylation in control of pairwise protein-protein interactions in biological membranes. Thus, in photosynthesis, the surface charge model is only one possible interpretation.

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