Chinese researchers at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences make photosynthesis breakthrough.
Chinese researchers make breakthrough in structural biology in photosynthesis. Understanding the inner workings of photosynthesis can have major impact on how we create energy in the future. Plants are still way ahead of humans in using the sun for energy.
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During photosynthesis, the plant photosystem II core complex receives excitation energy from the peripheral light-harvesting complex II (LHCII). The pathways along which excitation energy is transferred between them, and their assembly mechanisms, remain to be deciphered through high-resolution structural studies.
The scientists around Liu Zhenfeng, Li Mei and Zhang Xinzheng show the structure of a 1.1-megadalton spinach photosystem II–LHCII supercomplex solved at 3.2 Ångström (0.1 nm) resolution through single-particle cryo-electron microscopy.
The structure reveals a homodimeric supramolecular system in which each monomer contains 25 protein subunits, 105 chlorophylls, 28 carotenoids and other cofactors. By analyzing the closely connected interfacial chlorophylls, the research team has obtained detailed insights into the energy-transfer pathways between the antenna and core complexes.