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J Bacteriol. 2011 Dec;193(23):6701-11. doi: 10.1128/JB.06124-11. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Ultrastructural analysis and identification of envelope proteins of "Candidatus Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" chlorosomes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Chlorosomes are sac-like, light-harvesting organelles that characteristically contain very large numbers of bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) c, d, or e molecules. These antenna structures occur in chlorophototrophs belonging to some members of the Chlorobi and Chloroflexi phyla and are also found in a recently discovered member of the phylum Acidobacteria, "Candidatus Chloracidobacterium thermophilum." "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" is the first aerobic organism discovered to possess chlorosomes as light-harvesting antennae for phototrophic growth. Chlorosomes were isolated from "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" and subjected to electron microscopic, spectroscopic, and biochemical analyses. The chlorosomes of "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" had an average size of ∼100 by 30 nm. Cryo-electron microscopy showed that the BChl c molecules formed folded or twisted, sheet-like structures with a lamellar spacing of ∼2.3 nm. Unlike the BChls in the chlorosomes of the green sulfur bacterium Chlorobaculum tepidum, concentric cylindrical nanotubes were not observed. Chlorosomes of "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" contained a homolog of CsmA, the BChl a-binding, baseplate protein; CsmV, a protein distantly related to CsmI, CsmJ, and CsmX of C. tepidum, which probably binds a single [2Fe-2S] cluster; and five unique polypeptides (CsmR, CsmS, CsmT, CsmU, and a type II NADH dehydrogenase homolog). Although "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" is an aerobe, energy transfer among the BChls in these chlorosomes was very strongly quenched in the presence of oxygen (as measured by quenching of fluorescence emission). The combined analyses showed that the chlorosomes of "Ca. Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" possess a number of unique features but also share some properties with the chlorosomes found in anaerobic members of other phyla.

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