Primary structure of the reaction center from Rhodopseudomonas sphaeroides

J. C. Williams, L. A. Steiner, G. Feher

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120 Scopus citations


The reaction center is a pigmentprotein complex that mediates the initial photochemical steps of photosynthesis. The amino‐terminai sequences of the L, M, and H subunits and the nucleotide and derived amino acid sequences of the L and M structural genes from Rhodopseudomonas sphaeroides have previously been determined. We report here the sequence of the H subunit, completing the primary structure determination of the reaction center from R. sphaeroides. The nucleotide sequence of the gene encoding the H subunit was determined by the dideoxy method after subcloning fragments into single‐stranded M13 phage vectors. This information was used to derive the amino acid sequence of the corresponding polypeptide. The termini of the primary structure of the H subunit were established by means of the amino and carboxy terminal sequences of the polypeptide. The data showed that hte H subunit is composed of 260 residues, corresponding to a molecular weight of 28,003. A molecular weight of 100,858 for the reaction center was calculated from the primary structures of the subunits and the cofactors. Examination of the genes encoding the reaction center shows that the codon usage is strongly bviased towards codons ending in G and C. Hydropathy analysis of the H subunit sequence reveals one stretch opf hydrophobic residues near the amino terminus; the L and M subunits contain five such stretches. From a comparison of the sequences of homologous proteins found in bacterial reaction centers and photosystem II of plants, an evolutionary tree was contructed. The analysis of evolutionary relationships showed that the L and M subunits of reaction centers and D1 and D2 proteins of photosystem II are descended from a common ancestor, and that the rate of change in these proteins was much higher in the first billion years after the divergence of the reaction center and photosystem II than in the subsequent billion years represented by the divergence of the species containing these proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-325
Number of pages14
JournalProteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • evolution
  • membrane proteins
  • nucleotide sequence
  • photosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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