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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Feb;1767(2):161-9. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

Inhibition of respiration and nitrate assimilation enhances photohydrogen evolution under low oxygen concentrations in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

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Botanisches Institut, Christian-Albrechts-Universit├Ąt, Am Botanischen Garten 1-9, 24118 Kiel, Germany.


In cyanobacterial membranes photosynthetic light reaction and respiration are intertwined. It was shown that the single hydrogenase of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is connected to the light reaction. We conducted measurements of hydrogenase activity, fermentative hydrogen evolution and photohydrogen production of deletion mutants of respiratory electron transport complexes. All single, double and triple mutants of the three terminal respiratory oxidases and the ndhB-mutant without a functional complex I were studied. After activating the hydrogenase by applying anaerobic conditions in the dark hydrogen production was measured at the onset of light. Under these conditions respiratory capacity and amount of photohydrogen produced were found to be inversely correlated. Especially the absence of the quinol oxidase induced an increased hydrogenase activity and an increased production of hydrogen in the light compared to wild type cells. Our results support that the hydrogenase as well as the quinol oxidase function as electron valves under low oxygen concentrations. When the activities of photosystem II and I (PSII and PSI) are not in equilibrium or in case that the light reaction is working at a higher pace than the dark reaction, the hydrogenase is necessary to prevent an acceptor side limitation of PSI, and the quinol oxidase to prevent an overreduction of the plastoquinone pool (acceptor side of PSII). Besides oxygen, nitrate assimilation was found to be an important electron sink. Inhibition of nitrate reductase resulted in an increased fermentative hydrogen production as well as higher amounts of photohydrogen.

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