Large-scale in vitro production, refolding and dimerization of PsbS in different microenvironments.
ABSTRACT: Plants adapt to fluctuating light conditions by a process called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), where membrane protein PsbS plays a crucial role and transforms a change in the pH-gradient across the thylakoid membrane under excess light conditions into a photoprotective state, leading to de-excitation of antenna chlorophylls. The PsbS activation mechanism is elusive and has been proposed to involve a monomerization step and protonation of specific residues. To elucidate its function, it is essential to produce PsbS in large quantities, stabilize PsbS in a membrane-mimicking environment and analyze its pH-dependent conformational structure. We present an approach for large-scale in-vitro production and spectroscopic characterization of PsbS under controlled, non-crystalline conditions. We produced PsbS of the moss Physcomitrella patens in milligram quantities in E. coli, refolded PsbS in several detergent types and analyzed its conformation at neutral and low pH by Dynamic Light Scattering and NMR spectroscopy. Our results reveal that at both pH conditions, PsbS exist as dimers or in apparent monomer-dimer equilibria. Lowering of the pH induces conformational changes, destabilizes the dimer state and shifts the equilibria towards the monomeric form. In vivo, a similar response upon thylakoid lumen acidification may tune PsbS activity in a gradual manner.
Project description:In higher plants, the PsbS subunit of photosystem II (PSII) plays a crucial role in pH- and xanthophyll-dependent nonphotochemical quenching of excess absorbed light energy, thus contributing to the defense mechanism against photoinhibition. We determined the amino acid sequence of Zea mays PsbS and produced an antibody that recognizes with high specificity a region of the protein located in the stroma-exposed loop between the second and third putative helices. By means of this antiserum, the thylakoid membranes of various higher plant species revealed the presence of a 42-kDa protein band, indicating the formation of a dimer of the 21-kDa PsbS protein. Crosslinking experiments and immunoblotting with other antisera seem to exclude the formation of a heterodimer with other PSII protein components. The PsbS monomer/dimer ratio in isolated thylakoid membranes was found to vary with luminal pH in a reversible manner, the monomer being the prevalent form at acidic and the dimer at alkaline pH. In intact chloroplasts and whole plants, dimer-to-monomer conversion is reversibly induced by light, known to cause luminal acidification. Sucrose-gradient centrifugation revealed a prevalent association of the PsbS monomer and dimer with light-harvesting complex and PSII core complexes, respectively. The finding of the existence of a light-induced change in the quaternary structure of the PsbS subunit may contribute to understanding the mechanism of PsbS action during nonphotochemical quenching.
Project description:Under strong sunlight, plants avoid photooxidation by quenching the excess absorbed energy. Quenching is triggered by PsbS, a membrane protein that is activated and deactivated by the light-dependent pH changes in the thylakoid lumen. The mechanism of action of this protein is unknown, but it was suggested that several glutamates act as pH sensors. However, the p Ka of glutamate is several pH units below the physiological values in the lumen. Thus, how can PsbS sense the pH of the lumen, and how does it respond to it? By applying a nonstandard molecular dynamics method that treats pH explicitly, we show that the lumen-exposed glutamates of PsbS have strongly shifted p Ka values and that such shifts are crucial for the pH sensitivity in physiological conditions. We also demonstrate that protonation drives a systematic unfolding of a region key for protein-protein interactions, indicating that PsbS response to pH is a functional conformational switch.
Project description:Feedback de-excitation (qE) regulates light harvesting in plants to prevent inhibition of photosynthesis when light absorption exceeds photosynthetic capacity. Although the mechanism of qE is not completely understood, it is known to require a low thylakoid lumen pH, de-epoxidized xanthophylls, and the photosystem II protein PsbS. During a short-term 4-h exposure to excess light, three PsbS- and qE-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants that differed in xanthophyll composition were more photoinhibited than the wild type. The extent of photoinhibition was the same in all of the mutants, suggesting that qE capacity rather than xanthophyll composition is critical for photoprotection in short-term high light, in contrast to longer-term high light conditions (days) when additional antioxidant roles of specific xanthophylls are evident. Plants with a 2-fold increase in qE capacity were generated by overexpression of PsbS, demonstrating that the level of PsbS limits the qE capacity in wild-type Arabidopsis. These results are consistent with the idea that variations in PsbS expression are responsible for species-specific and environmentally induced differences in qE capacity observed in nature. Furthermore, plants with higher qE capacity were more resistant to photoinhibition than the wild type. Increased qE was associated with decreased photosystem II excitation pressure and changes in the fractional areas of chlorophyll a fluorescence lifetime distributions, but not the lifetime centers, suggesting that qE protects from photoinhibition by preventing overreduction of photosystem II electron acceptors. Engineering of qE capacity by PsbS overexpression could potentially yield crop plants that are more resistant to environmental stress.
Project description:The photosystem II (PSII) protein PsbS and the enzyme violaxanthin deepoxidase (VDE) are known to influence the dynamics of energy-dependent quenching (qE), the component of nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) that allows plants to respond to fast fluctuations in light intensity. Although the absence of PsbS and VDE has been shown to change the amount of quenching, there have not been any measurements that can detect whether the presence of these proteins alters the type of quenching that occurs. The chlorophyll fluorescence lifetime probes the excited-state chlorophyll relaxation dynamics and can be used to determine the amount of quenching as well as whether two different genotypes with the same amount of NPQ have similar dynamics of excited-state chlorophyll relaxation. We measured the fluorescence lifetimes on whole leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana throughout the induction and relaxation of NPQ for wild type and the qE mutants, npq4, which lacks PsbS; npq1, which lacks VDE and cannot convert violaxanthin to zeaxanthin; and npq1 npq4, which lacks both VDE and PsbS. These measurements show that although PsbS changes the amount of quenching and the rate at which quenching turns on, it does not affect the relaxation dynamics of excited chlorophyll during quenching. In addition, the data suggest that PsbS responds not only to ?pH but also to the ?? across the thylakoid membrane. In contrast, the presence of VDE, which is necessary for the accumulation of zeaxanthin, affects the excited-state chlorophyll relaxation dynamics.
Project description:PsbS Protein Interactions during Non-photochemical quenching The non-photochemical quenching of excitation energy (NPQ) describes a photoprotective mechanism in the antenna of PSII which dissipates excess excitation energy as heat at the level of 1Chl* and by that prevents the formation of singlet oxygen in PSII. Four different components contribute to NPQ, namely qT, qE, qZ and qI. Under saturating light conditions, the qE represents the dominant NPQ component; qE is based on a complex mechanism which strictly depends on the ΔpH across the thylakoid membrane, the PsbS protein and the xanthophyll zeaxanthin (Zx). The central role of PsbS in these processes is related to the function of PsbS as sensor of the lumen pH. However, the molecular basis of this central function and particularly the underlying interactions of PsbS with PSII antenna proteins that lead to energy quenching are largely unclear. In this work, we present an in vitro approach to identify protein transient interactions involving the PsbS protein during NPQ induction and relaxation in Arabidopsis thaliana, revealing its direct role in the formation of quenching sites in the antenna complexes of photosystem II.
Project description:Natural capacity has evolved in higher plants to absorb and harness excessive light energy. In basic models, the majority of absorbed photon energy is radiated back as fluorescence and heat. For years the proton sensor protein PsbS was considered to play a critical role in non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of light absorbed by PSII antennae and in its dissipation as heat. However, the significance of PsbS in regulating heat emission from a whole leaf has never been verified before by direct measurement of foliar temperature under changing light intensity. To test its validity, we here investigated the foliar temperature changes on increasing and decreasing light intensity conditions (foliar temperature dynamics) using a high resolution thermal camera and a powerful adjustable light-emitting diode (LED) light source. First, we showed that light-dependent foliar temperature dynamics is correlated with Chl content in leaves of various plant species. Secondly, we compared the foliar temperature dynamics in Arabidopsis thaliana wild type, the PsbS null mutant npq4-1 and a PsbS-overexpressing transgenic line under different transpiration conditions with or without a photosynthesis inhibitor. We found no direct correlations between the NPQ level and the foliar temperature dynamics. Rather, differences in foliar temperature dynamics are primarily affected by stomatal aperture, and rapid foliar temperature increase during irradiation depends on the water status of the leaf. We conclude that PsbS is not directly involved in regulation of foliar temperature dynamics during excessive light energy episodes.
Project description:The photosystem II (PSII) subunit S (PsbS) plays a key role in nonphotochemical quenching, a photoprotective mechanism for dissipation of excess excitation energy in plants. The precise function of PsbS in nonphotochemical quenching is unknown. By reconstituting PsbS together with the major light-harvesting complex of PSII (LHC-II) and the xanthophyll zeaxanthin (Zea) into proteoliposomes, we have tested the individual contributions of PSII complexes and Zea to chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence quenching in a membrane environment. We demonstrate that PsbS is stable in the absence of pigments in vitro. Significant Chl fluorescence quenching of reconstituted LHC-II was observed in the presence of PsbS and Zea, although neither Zea nor PsbS alone was sufficient to induce the same quenching. Coreconstitution with PsbS resulted in the formation of LHC-II/PsbS heterodimers, indicating their direct interaction in the lipid bilayer. Two-photon excitation measurements on liposomes containing LHC-II, PsbS, and Zea showed an increase of electronic interactions between carotenoid S1 and Chl states, ?(Coupling)(CarS1-Chl), that correlated directly with Chl fluorescence quenching. These findings are in agreement with a carotenoid-dependent Chl fluorescence quenching by direct interactions of LHCs of PSII with PsbS monomers.
Project description:In nature, plants experience large fluctuations in light intensity and they need to balance the absorption and utilization of this energy appropriately. Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) is a rapidly switchable mechanism that protects plants from photodamage caused by high light exposure by dissipating the excess absorbed energy as heat. It is triggered by the pH gradient across the thylakoid membrane and requires the protein PsbS and the xanthophyll zeaxanthin. However, the site and mechanism of the quencher(s) remain unknown. Here, we constructed a mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana that lacks light-harvesting complex II (LHCII), the main antenna complex of plants, to verify its contribution to NPQ. The mutant plant has normally stacked thylakoid membranes, displays no upregulation of other LHCs but shows a relative decrease in Photosystem I (PSI), which compensates for the decrease of the PSII antenna. The mutant plant exhibits a reduction in NPQ of about 60% and the remaining NPQ resembles that of mutant plants lacking chlorophyll (Chl) b, which lack all PSII peripheral antenna complexes. We thus report that PsbS-dependent NPQ occurs mainly in LHCII, but there is an additional quenching site in the PSII core.
Project description:Nonphotochemical quenching is the protective mechanism against overexcitation of photosystem II, triggered by excess ?pH in photosynthetic membranes. The light-harvesting complexes (LHCs), the de-epoxidation of violaxanthin to zeaxanthin, and the photosystem II subunit S (PsbS) work in synergy for an optimized multilevel response. Understanding the fine details of this synergy has proven challenging to scientific research. Here, we employ large-scale, all-atom molecular simulations and beyond experimental insight, we proceed a step further in identifying the PsbS dynamics that could possibly be associated with this synergy. For the first time, to our knowledge, we probe the distinct behavior of PsbS under ?pH that probes the details of the potential dimer-to-monomer transition, and in a violaxanthin/zeaxanthin-rich membrane, at an all-atom resolution. We propose that the lumen-exposed residues, threonine 162 and glutamic acid 173, form stabilizing hydrogen bonds between the PsbS monomers only at high lumen pH, whereas at low pH (excess ?pH) this interaction is lost, and leads to higher flexibility of the protein and potentially to the dimer-to-monomer transition. Lastly, we discuss how conformational changes under the presence of ?pH/zeaxanthin are related to the PsbS role in the current nonphotochemical quenching model in the literature. For the latter, we probe a PsbS-monomeric LHCII association. The association is proposed to potentially alter the monomeric LHCII sensitivity to ?pH by changing the pKa values of interacting LHCII residues. This serves as an example where protonation-ligation events enhance protein-protein interactions fundamental to many life processes.
Project description:Coping of evergreen conifers in boreal forests with freezing temperatures on bright winter days puts the photosynthetic machinery in great risk of oxidative damage. To survive harsh winter conditions, conifers have evolved a unique but poorly characterized photoprotection mechanism, a sustained form of nonphotochemical quenching (sustained NPQ). Here we focused on functional properties and underlying molecular mechanisms related to the development of sustained NPQ in Norway spruce (Picea abies). Data were collected during 4 consecutive years (2016 to 2019) from trees growing in sun and shade habitats. When day temperatures dropped below -4 °C, the specific N-terminally triply phosphorylated LHCB1 isoform (3p-LHCII) and phosphorylated PSBS (p-PSBS) could be detected in the thylakoid membrane. Development of sustained NPQ coincided with the highest level of 3p-LHCII and p-PSBS, occurring after prolonged coincidence of bright winter days and temperatures close to -10 °C. Artificial induction of both the sustained NPQ and recovery from naturally induced sustained NPQ provided information on differential dynamics and light-dependence of 3p-LHCII and p-PSBS accumulation as prerequisites for sustained NPQ. Data obtained collectively suggest three components related to sustained NPQ in spruce: 1) Freezing temperatures induce 3p-LHCII accumulation independently of light, which is suggested to initiate destacking of appressed thylakoid membranes due to increased electrostatic repulsion of adjacent membranes; 2) p-PSBS accumulation is both light- and temperature-dependent and closely linked to the initiation of sustained NPQ, which 3) in concert with PSII photoinhibition, is suggested to trigger sustained NPQ in spruce.