Effects of cations upon chloroplast membrane subunit interactions and excitation energy distribution

C. J. Arntzen, C. L. Ditto

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67 Scopus citations


When isolated chloroplasts from mature pea (Pisum sativum) leaves were treated with digitonin under "low salt" conditions, the membranes were extensively solubilized into small subunits (as evidenced by analysis with small pore ultrafilters). From this solubilized preparation, a photochemically inactive chlorophyll · protein complex (chlorophyll a b ratio, 1.3) was isolated. We suggest that the detergent-derived membrane fragment from mature membranes is a structural complex within the membrane which contains the light-harvesting chlorophyll a b protein and which acts as a light-harvesting antenna primarily for Photosystem II. Cations dramatically alter the structural interaction of the light-harvesting complex with the photochemically active system II complex. This interaction has been measured by determining the amount of protein-bound chlorophyll b and Photosystem II activity which can be released into dispersed subunits by digitonin treatment of chloroplast lamellae. When cations are present to cause interaction between the Photosystem II complex and the light-harvesting pigment · protein, the combined complexes pellet as a "heavy" membranous fraction during differential centrifugation of detergent treated lamellae. In the absence of cations, the two complexes dissociate and can be isolated in a "light" submembrane preparation from which the light-harvesting complex can be purified by sucrose gradient centrifugation. Cation effects on excitation energy distribution between Photosystems I and II have been monitored by following Photosystem II fluorescence changes under chloroplast incubation conditions identical to those used for detergent treatment (with the exception of chlorophyll concentration differences and omission of detergents). The cation dependency of the pigment · protein complex and Photosystem II reaction center interactions measured by detergent fractionation, and regulation of excitation energy distribution as measured by fluorescence changes, were identical. We conclude that changes in substructural organization of intact membranes, involving cation induced changes in the interaction of intramembranous subunits, are the primary factors regulating the distribution of excitation energy between Photosystems II and I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-274
Number of pages16
JournalBBA - Bioenergetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 9 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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