Subdiffraction-resolution live-cell imaging for visualizing thylakoid membranes.
ABSTRACT: 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:Flexibility of chloroplast thylakoid membrane proteins is essential for plant fitness and survival under fluctuating light environments. Phosphorylation of light-harvesting antenna complex II (LHCII) is known to induce dynamic protein reorganization that fine-tunes the rate of energy conversion in each photosystem. However, molecular details of how LHCII phosphorylation causes light energy redistribution throughout thylakoid membranes still remain unclear. By using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, we here determined the LHCII phosphorylation-dependent protein diffusion in thylakoid membranes isolated from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. As compared to the LHCII dephosphorylation-induced condition, the diffusion coefficient of LHCII increased nearly twofold under the LHCII phosphorylation-induced condition. We also verified the results by using the LHCII phosphorylation-deficient mutant. Our observation suggests that LHCII phosphorylation-dependent protein reorganization occurs along with the changes in the rate of protein diffusion, which would have an important role in mediating light energy redistribution throughout thylakoid membranes.
Project description:Photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes (LHCs) of higher plants, moss, and green algae can undergo dynamic conformational transitions, which have been correlated to their ability to adapt to fluctuations in the light environment. Herein, we demonstrate the application of solid-state NMR spectroscopy on native, heterogeneous thylakoid membranes of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Cr) and on Cr light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) in thylakoid lipid bilayers to detect LHCII conformational dynamics in its native membrane environment. We show that membrane-reconstituted LHCII contains selective sites that undergo fast, large-amplitude motions, including the phytol tails of two chlorophylls. Protein plasticity is also observed in the N-terminal stromal loop and in protein fragments facing the lumen, involving sites that stabilize the xanthophyll-cycle carotenoid violaxanthin and the two luteins. The results report on the intrinsic flexibility of LHCII pigment-protein complexes in a membrane environment, revealing putative sites for conformational switching. In thylakoid membranes, fast dynamics of protein and pigment sites is significantly reduced, which suggests that in their native organelle membranes, LHCII complexes are locked in specific conformational states.
Project description:The major Rhesus (Rh) protein of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Rh1, is homologous to Rh proteins of humans. It is an integral membrane protein involved in transport of carbon dioxide. To localize a fusion of intact Rh1 to the green fluorescent protein (GFP), we used as host a white (lts1) mutant strain of C. reinhardtii, which is blocked at the first step of carotenoid biosynthesis. The lts1 mutant strain accumulated normal amounts of Rh1 heterotrophically in the dark and Rh1-GFP was at the periphery of the cell co-localized with the cytoplasmic membrane dye FM4-64. Although Rh1 carries a potential chloroplast targeting sequence at its N-terminus, Rh1-GFP was clearly not associated with the chloroplast envelope membrane. Moreover, the N-terminal half of the protein was not imported into chloroplasts in vitro and N-terminal regions of Rh1 did not direct import of the small subunit of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (SSU). Despite caveats to this interpretation, which we discuss, current evidence indicates that Rh1 is a cytoplasmic membrane protein and that Rh1-GFP is among the first cytoplasmic membrane protein fusions to be obtained in C. reinhardtii. Although lts1 (white) mutant strains cannot be used to localize proteins within sub-compartments of the chloroplast because they lack thylakoid membranes, they should nonetheless be valuable for localizing many GFP fusions in Chlamydomonas.
Project description:Thylakoid membranes scaffold an assortment of large protein complexes that work together to harness the energy of light. It has been a longstanding challenge to visualize how the intricate thylakoid network organizes these protein complexes to finely tune the photosynthetic reactions. Previously, we used in situ cryo-electron tomography to reveal the native architecture of thylakoid membranes (Engel et al., 2015). Here, we leverage technical advances to resolve the individual protein complexes within these membranes. Combined with a new method to visualize membrane surface topology, we map the molecular landscapes of thylakoid membranes inside green algae cells. Our tomograms provide insights into the molecular forces that drive thylakoid stacking and reveal that photosystems I and II are strictly segregated at the borders between appressed and non-appressed membrane domains. This new approach to charting thylakoid topology lays the foundation for dissecting photosynthetic regulation at the level of single protein complexes within the cell.
Project description:In cyanobacteria and plants, VIPP1 plays crucial roles in the biogenesis and repair of thylakoid membrane protein complexes and in coping with chloroplast membrane stress. In chloroplasts, VIPP1 localizes in distinct patterns at or close to envelope and thylakoid membranes. In vitro, VIPP1 forms higher-order oligomers of >1 MDa that organize into rings and rods. However, it remains unknown how VIPP1 oligomerization is related to function. Using time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy and sucrose density gradient centrifugation, we show here that Chlamydomonas reinhardtii VIPP1 binds strongly to liposomal membranes containing phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P). Cryo-electron tomography reveals that VIPP1 oligomerizes into rods that can engulf liposomal membranes containing PI4P. These findings place VIPP1 into a group of membrane-shaping proteins including epsin and BAR domain proteins. Moreover, they point to a potential role of phosphatidylinositols in directing the shaping of chloroplast membranes.
Project description:Chloroplasts are endosymbiotic organelles and play crucial roles in energy supply and metabolism of eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms (algae and land plants). They harbor channels and transporters in the envelope and thylakoid membranes, mediating the exchange of ions and metabolites with the cytosol and the chloroplast stroma and between the different chloroplast subcompartments. In secondarily evolved algae, three or four envelope membranes surround the chloroplast, making more complex the exchange of ions and metabolites. Despite the importance of transport proteins for the optimal functioning of the chloroplast in algae, and that many land plant homologues have been predicted, experimental evidence and molecular characterization are missing in most cases. Here, we provide an overview of the current knowledge about ion and metabolite transport in the chloroplast from algae. The main aspects reviewed are localization and activity of the transport proteins from algae and/or of homologues from other organisms including land plants. Most chloroplast transporters were identified in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, reside in the envelope and participate in carbon acquisition and metabolism. Only a few identified algal transporters are located in the thylakoid membrane and play role in ion transport. The presence of genes for putative transporters in green algae, red algae, diatoms, glaucophytes and cryptophytes is discussed, and roles in the chloroplast are suggested. A deep knowledge in this field is required because algae represent a potential source of biomass and valuable metabolites for industry, medicine and agriculture.
Project description:Nuclear-encoded light-harvesting chlorophyll- and carotenoid-binding proteins (LHCPs) are imported into the chloroplast and transported across the stroma to thylakoid membrane assembly sites by the chloroplast signal recognition particle (CpSRP) pathway. The LHCP translocation defect (LTD) protein is essential for the delivery of imported LHCPs to the CpSRP pathway in Arabidopsis. However, the function of the LTD protein in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has not been investigated. Here, we generated a C. reinhardtii ltd (Crltd) knockout mutant by using CRISPR-Cas9, a new target-specific knockout technology. The Crltd1 mutant showed a low chlorophyll content per cell with an unusual increase in appressed thylakoid membranes and enlarged cytosolic vacuoles. Profiling of thylakoid membrane proteins in the Crltd1 mutant showed a more severe reduction in the levels of photosystem I (PSI) core proteins and absence of functional LHCI compared with those of photosystem II, resulting in a much smaller PSI pool size and diminished chlorophyll antenna size. The lack of CrLTD did not prevent photoautotrophic growth of the cells. These results are substantially different from those for Arabidopsis ltd null mutant, indicating LTD function in LHCP delivery and PSI assembly may not be as stringent in C. reinhardtii as it is in higher plants.
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:Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic prokaryotes that make major contributions to the production of the oxygen in the Earth atmosphere. The photosynthetic machinery in cyanobacterial cells is housed in flattened membrane structures called thylakoids. The structural organization of cyanobacterial cells and the arrangement of the thylakoid membranes in response to environmental conditions have been widely investigated. However, there is limited knowledge about the internal dynamics of these membranes in terms of their flexibility and motion during the photosynthetic process. We present a direct observation of thylakoid membrane undulatory motion in vivo and show a connection between membrane mobility and photosynthetic activity. High-resolution inelastic neutron scattering experiments on the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 assessed the flexibility of cyanobacterial thylakoid membrane sheets and the dependence of the membranes on illumination conditions. We observed softer thylakoid membranes in the dark that have three-to four fold excess mobility compared to membranes under high light conditions. Our analysis indicates that electron transfer between photosynthetic reaction centers and the associated electrochemical proton gradient across the thylakoid membrane result in a significant driving force for excess membrane dynamics. These observations provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between photosynthesis and cellular architecture.
Project description: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.