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Biochemistry. 1995 Nov 21;34(46):15235-47.

Role of PufX protein in photosynthetic growth of Rhodobacter sphaeroides. 1. PufX is required for efficient light-driven electron transfer and photophosphorylation under anaerobic conditions.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany.


The pufX gene is essential for photoheterotrophic growth of the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. In order to analyze the molecular function of the PufX membrane protein, we constructed a chromosomal pufX deletion mutant and phenotypically compared it to a pufX+ control strain and to two suppressor mutants which are able to grow photosynthetically in the absence of pufX. Using this genetic background, we confirmed that PufX is required for photoheterotrophic growth under anaerobic conditions, although all components of the photosynthetic apparatus were present in similar amounts in all strains investigated. We show that the deletion of PufX is not lethal for illuminated pufX- cells, suggesting that PufX is required for photosynthetic cell division. Since chromatophores isolated from the pufX- mutant were found to be unsealed vesicles, the role of PufX in photosynthetic energy transduction was studied in vivo. We show that PufX is essential for light-induced ATP synthesis (photophosphorylation) in anaerobically incubated cells. Measurements of absorption changes induced by a single turnover flash demonstrated that PufX is not required for electron flow through the reaction center and the cytochrome bc1 complex under anaerobic conditions. During prolonged illumination, however, PufX is essential for the generation of a sufficiently large membrane potential to allow photosynthetic growth. These in vivo results demonstrate that under anaerobic conditions PufX plays an essential role in facilitating effective interaction of the components of the photosynthetic apparatus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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