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J Mol Biol. 1987 Aug 5;196(3):677-95.

Refined three-dimensional structures of two cyanobacterial C-phycocyanins at 2.1 and 2.5 A resolution. A common principle of phycobilin-protein interaction.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, F.R.G.


The crystal structure of the light-harvesting protein-pigment complex C-phycocyanin (C-PC) from Mastigocladus laminosus (at 2.1 A resolution (1 A = 0.1 nm] has been refined by energy-restrained least-squares methods to a conventional R-factor of 21.7%. In the same way, the crystal structure of C-PC from Agmenellum quadruplicatum has been refined further (2.5 A, R = 18.4%); pyrrole rings C and D of the chromophore at position A84 have been corrected with respect to the previously reported structure. The two C-PC structures are very similar, 213 C alpha positions have a root-mean-square deviation of 0.49 A. Polar and ionic side-chain interactions are discussed in detail and the two subunits of C-PC from M. laminosus are compared to each other. All three chromophores are completely defined and their tetrapyrroles exhibit very similar geometry. The structure of a C-PC chromophore resembles a cleaved porphyrin which has been twisted roughly 180 degrees around the C-5-C-6 and C-14-C-15 bonds. Accordingly, the configuration/conformation of the chromophores is Z-anti, Z-syn, Z-anti (with the exception of the "configuration" of C-15 of chromophore B155, which is almost midway between Z and E). The three chromophores interact similarly with the protein. They arch around aspartate residues (A87, B87 and B39), and the nitrogens of pyrroles B and C are within hydrogen-bonding distance of one of the carboxylate oxygens. Most of the propionic side-chains of the chromophores form salt bridges with arginine and lysine residues. The updated relative chromophore distances and orientations confirm our conclusion that hexameric aggregates are probably the basic functional units, and that inter-hexameric energy transfer takes place preferentially via the central B84 chromophores.

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