Visualizing structural dynamics of thylakoid membranes.
ABSTRACT: To optimize photosynthesis, light-harvesting antenna proteins regulate light energy dissipation and redistribution in chloroplast thylakoid membranes, which involve dynamic protein reorganization of photosystems I and II. However, direct evidence for such protein reorganization has not been visualized in live cells. Here we demonstrate structural dynamics of thylakoid membranes by live cell imaging in combination with deconvolution. We observed chlorophyll fluorescence in the antibiotics-induced macrochloroplast in the moss Physcomitrella patens. The three-dimensional reconstruction uncovered the fine thylakoid membrane structure in live cells. The time-lapse imaging shows that the entire thylakoid membrane network is structurally stable, but the individual thylakoid membrane structure is flexible in vivo. Our observation indicates that grana serve as a framework to maintain structural integrity of the entire thylakoid membrane network. Both the structural stability and flexibility of thylakoid membranes would be essential for dynamic protein reorganization under fluctuating light environments.
Project description:The performance of the photosynthesis machinery in plants, including light harvesting, electron transport, and protein repair, is controlled by structural changes in the thylakoid membrane system inside the chloroplasts. In particular, the structure of the stacked grana area of thylakoid membranes is highly dynamic, changing in response to different environmental cues such as light intensity. For example, the aqueous thylakoid lumen enclosed by thylakoid membranes in grana has been documented to swell in the presence of light. However, light-induced alteration of the stromal gap in the stacked grana (partition gap) and of the unstacked stroma lamellae has not been well characterized. Light-induced changes in the entire thylakoid membrane system, including the lumen in both stacked and unstacked domains as well as the partition gap, are presented here, and the functional implications are discussed. This structural analysis was made possible by development of a robust semi-automated image analysis method combined with optimized plant tissue fixation techniques for transmission electron microscopy generating quantitative structural results for the analysis of thylakoid ultrastructure.<h4>Significance statement</h4>A methodical pipeline ranging from optimized leaf tissue preparation for electron microscopy to quantitative image analysis was established. This methodical development was employed to study details of light-induced changes in the plant thylakoid ultrastructure. It was found that the lumen of the entire thylakoid system (stacked and unstacked domains) undergoes light-induced swelling, whereas adjacent membranes on the stroma side in stacked grana thylakoid approach each other.
Project description:Thylakoid membranes in chloroplasts contain photosynthetic protein complexes that convert light energy into chemical energy. Photosynthetic protein complexes are considered to undergo structural reorganization to maintain the efficiency of photochemical reactions. A detailed description of the mobility of photosynthetic complexes in real time is necessary to understand how macromolecular organization of the membrane is altered by environmental fluctuations. Here, we used high-speed atomic force microscopy to visualize and characterize the in situ mobility of individual protein complexes in grana thylakoid membranes isolated from Spinacia oleracea. Our observations reveal that these membranes can harbor complexes with at least two distinctive classes of mobility. A large fraction of grana membranes contained proteins with quasistatic mobility exhibiting molecular displacements smaller than 10 nm2. In the remaining fraction, the protein mobility is variable with molecular displacements of up to 100 nm2. This visualization at high spatiotemporal resolution enabled us to estimate an average diffusion coefficient of ?1 nm2 s-1. Interestingly, both confined and Brownian diffusion models could describe the protein mobility of the second group of membranes. We also provide the first direct evidence, to our knowledge, of rotational diffusion of photosynthetic complexes. The rotational diffusion of photosynthetic complexes could be an adaptive response to the high protein density in the membrane to guarantee the efficiency of electron transfer reactions. This characterization of the mobility of individual photosynthetic complexes in grana membranes establishes a foundation that could be adapted to study the dynamics of the complexes inside intact and photosynthetically functional thylakoid membranes to be able to understand its structural responses to diverse environmental fluctuations.
Project description:Grana are a characteristic feature of higher plants' thylakoid membranes, consisting of stacks of appressed membranes enriched in Photosystem II (PSII) and associated light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) proteins, together forming the PSII-LHCII supercomplex. Grana stacks undergo light-dependent structural changes, mainly by reorganizing the supramolecular structure of PSII-LHCII supercomplexes. LHCII is vital for grana formation, in which also PSII-LHCII supercomplexes are involved. By combining top-down and crosslinking mass spectrometry we uncover the spatial organization of paired PSII-LHCII supercomplexes within thylakoid membranes. The resulting model highlights a basic molecular mechanism whereby plants maintain grana stacking at changing light conditions. This mechanism relies on interactions between stroma-exposed N-terminal loops of LHCII trimers and Lhcb4 subunits facing each other in adjacent membranes. The combination of light-dependent LHCII N-terminal trimming and extensive N-terminal α-acetylation likely affects interactions between pairs of PSII-LHCII supercomplexes across the stromal gap, ultimately mediating membrane folding in grana stacks.
Project description:The chloroplasts of land plants contain internal membrane systems, the thylakoids, which are arranged in stacks called grana. Because grana have not been found in Cyanobacteria, the evolutionary origin of genes controlling the structural and functional diversification of thylakoidal membranes in land plants remains unclear. The angulata10-1 (anu10-1) mutant, which exhibits pale-green rosettes, reduced growth, and deficient leaf lateral expansion, resulting in the presence of prominent marginal teeth, was isolated. Palisade cells in anu10-1 are larger and less packed than in the wild type, giving rise to large intercellular spaces. The ANU10 gene encodes a protein of unknown function that localizes to both chloroplasts and amyloplasts. In chloroplasts, ANU10 associates with thylakoidal membranes. Mutant anu10-1 chloroplasts accumulate H2O2, and have reduced levels of chlorophyll and carotenoids. Moreover, these chloroplasts are small and abnormally shaped, thylakoidal membranes are less abundant, and their grana are absent due to impaired thylakoid stacking in the anu10-1 mutant. Because the trimeric light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) has been reported to be required for thylakoid stacking, its levels were determined in anu10-1 thylakoids and they were found to be reduced. Together, the data point to a requirement for ANU10 for chloroplast and mesophyll development.
Project description:The intricate molecular processes underlying photosynthesis have long been studied using various analytic approaches. However, the three-dimensional (3D) dynamics of such photosynthetic processes remain unexplored due to technological limitations related to investigating intraorganellar mechanisms in vivo. By developing a system for high-speed 3D laser scanning confocal microscopy combined with high-sensitivity multiple-channel detection, we visualized excitation energy dynamics in thylakoid structures within chloroplasts of live Physcomitrella patens cells. Two distinct thylakoid structures in the chloroplast, namely the grana and stroma lamellae, were visualized three-dimensionally in live cells. The simultaneous detection of the shorter (than ~670 nm) and longer (than ~680 nm) wavelength regions of chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence reveals different spatial characteristics-irregular and vertical structures, respectively. Spectroscopic analyses showed that the shorter and longer wavelength regions of Chl fluorescence are affected more by free light-harvesting antenna proteins and photosystem II supercomplexes, respectively. The high-speed 3D time-lapse imaging of the shorter and longer wavelength regions also reveals different structural dynamics-rapid and slow movements within 1.5 seconds, respectively. Such structural dynamics of the two wavelength regions of Chl fluorescence would indicate excitation energy dynamics between light-harvesting antenna proteins and photosystems, reflecting the energetically active nature of photosynthetic proteins in thylakoid membranes.
Project description:In chloroplasts of land plants, the thylakoid network is organized into appressed regions called grana stacks and loosely arranged parallel stroma thylakoids. Many factors determining such intricate structural arrangements have been identified so far, including various thylakoid-embedded proteins, and polar lipids that build the thylakoid matrix. Although carotenoids are important components of proteins and the lipid phase of chloroplast membranes, their role in determining the thylakoid network structure remains elusive. We studied 2D and 3D thylakoid network organization in carotenoid-deficient mutants (ccr1-1, lut5-1, szl1-1, and szl1-1npq1-2) of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) to reveal the structural role of carotenoids in the formation and dynamics of the internal chloroplast membrane system. The most significant structural aberrations took place in chloroplasts of the szl1-1 and szl1-1npq1-2 plants. Increased lutein/carotene ratio in these mutants impaired the formation of grana, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of thylakoids used to build a particular stack. Further, combined biochemical and biophysical analyses revealed that hampered grana folding was related to decreased thylakoid membrane fluidity and significant changes in the amount, organization, and phosphorylation status of photosystem (PS) II (PSII) supercomplexes in the szl1-1 and szl1-1npq1-2 plants. Such changes resulted from a synergistic effect of lutein overaccumulation in the lipid matrix and a decreased level of carotenes bound with PS core complexes. Moreover, more rigid membrane in the lutein overaccumulating plants led to binding of Rubisco to the thylakoid surface, additionally providing steric hindrance for the dynamic changes in the level of membrane folding.
Project description:Protein phosphorylation is a fundamental post-translational modification in all organisms. In photoautotrophic organisms, protein phosphorylation is essential for the fine-tuning of photosynthesis. The reversible phosphorylation of the photosystem II (PSII) core and the light-harvesting complex of PSII (LHCII) contribute to the regulation of photosynthetic activities. Besides the phosphorylation of these major proteins, recent phosphoproteomic analyses have revealed that several proteins are phosphorylated in the thylakoid membrane. In this study, we utilized the Phos-tag technology for a comprehensive assessment of protein phosphorylation in the thylakoid membrane of Arabidopsis. Phos-tag SDS-PAGE enables the mobility shift of phosphorylated proteins compared with their non-phosphorylated isoform, thus differentiating phosphorylated proteins from their non-phosphorylated isoforms. We extrapolated this technique to two-dimensional (2D) SDS-PAGE for detecting protein phosphorylation in the thylakoid membrane. Thylakoid proteins were separated in the first dimension by conventional SDS-PAGE and in the second dimension by Phos-tag SDS-PAGE. In addition to the isolation of major phosphorylated photosynthesis-related proteins, 2D Phos-tag SDS-PAGE enabled the detection of several minor phosphorylated proteins in the thylakoid membrane. The analysis of the thylakoid kinase mutants demonstrated that light-dependent protein phosphorylation was mainly restricted to the phosphorylation of the PSII core and LHCII proteins. Furthermore, we assessed the phosphorylation states of the structural domains of the thylakoid membrane, grana core, grana margin, and stroma lamella. Overall, these results demonstrated that Phos-tag SDS-PAGE is a useful biochemical tool for studying in vivo protein phosphorylation in the thylakoid membrane protein.
Project description:The chloroplast is the chlorophyll-containing organelle that produces energy through photosynthesis. Within the chloroplast is an intricate network of thylakoid membranes containing photosynthetic membrane proteins that mediate electron transport and generate chemical energy. Historically, electron microscopy (EM) has been a powerful tool for visualizing the macromolecular structure and organization of thylakoid membranes. However, an understanding of thylakoid membrane dynamics remains elusive because EM requires fixation and sectioning. To improve our knowledge of thylakoid membrane dynamics we need to consider at least two issues: (i) the live-cell imaging conditions needed to visualize active processes in vivo; and (ii) the spatial resolution required to differentiate the characteristics of thylakoid membranes. Here, we utilize three-dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) to explore the optimal imaging conditions for investigating the dynamics of thylakoid membranes in living plant and algal cells. We show that 3D-SIM is capable of examining broad characteristics of thylakoid structures in chloroplasts of the vascular plant Arabidopsis thaliana and distinguishing the structural differences between wild-type and mutant strains. Using 3D-SIM, we also visualize thylakoid organization in whole cells of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. These data reveal that high light intensity changes thylakoid membrane structure in C. reinhardtii. Moreover, we observed the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis and the moss Physcomitrella patens to show the applicability of 3D-SIM. This study demonstrates that 3D-SIM is a promising approach for studying the dynamics of thylakoid membranes in photoautotrophic organisms during photoacclimation processes.
Project description:The major photosystem II light-harvesting antenna (LHCII) is the most abundant membrane protein in nature and plays an indispensable role in light harvesting and photoprotection in the plant thylakoid. Here, we show that "pseudothylakoid characteristics" can be observed in artificial LHCII membranes. In our proteoliposomal system, at high LHCII densities, the liposomes become stacked, mimicking the <i>in vivo</i> thylakoid grana membranes. Furthermore, an unexpected, unstructured emission peak at ∼730 nm appears, similar in appearance to photosystem I emission, but with a clear excimeric character that has never been previously reported. These states correlate with the increasing density of LHCII in the membrane and a decrease in its average fluorescence lifetime. The appearance of these low-energy states can also occur in natural plant membrane structures, which has unique consequences for the interpretation of the spectroscopic and physiological properties of the photosynthetic membrane.
Project description:FZO is a dynamin-related membrane-remodeling protein that mediates fusion between mitochondrial outer membranes in animals and fungi. We identified a single FZO-like protein in Arabidopsis, FZL, a new plant-specific member of the dynamin superfamily. FZL is targeted to chloroplasts and associated with thylakoid and envelope membranes as punctate structures. fzl knockout mutants have abnormalities in chloroplast and thylakoid morphology, including disorganized grana stacks and alterations in the relative proportions of grana and stroma thylakoids. Overexpression of FZL-GFP also conferred defects in thylakoid organization. Mutation of a conserved residue in the predicted FZL GTPase domain abolished both the punctate localization pattern and ability of FZL-GFP to complement the fzl mutant phenotype. FZL defines a new protein class within the dynamin superfamily of membrane-remodeling GTPases that regulates organization of the thylakoid network in plants. Notably, FZL levels do not affect mitochondrial morphology or ultrastructure, suggesting that mitochondrial morphology in plants is regulated by an FZO-independent mechanism.