Conformational relaxation of single bacterial light-harvesting complexes

Danielis Rutkauskas, Richard J Cogdell, Rienk van Grondelle
Biochemistry 2006 January 31, 45 (4): 1082-6
We have employed the technique of single-molecule fluorescence microspectroscopy to investigate the spontaneous conformational evolution of individual peripheral LH2 complexes from the purple bacterium Rhodopseudomonas acidophila. Fluorescence microscopy is a sensitive tool, which allows the spectral changes of single complexes to be monitored on a time scale from 0.1 s to many minutes. Here we have investigated "natural" (occurring in the absence of excitation) spectral diffusion after a spectral jump has occurred. In a quarter of all the observed spectral jumps recorded with the LH2 complexes, a further spontaneous evolution occurs, in the absence of illumination, that results in the formation of a different spectroscopic state. We suggest that this is due to a natural conformational development of the pigment-protein complex, which so far has not been observed for this type of complex at the single-molecule level. The functional significance of such structural rearrangements is not yet clear but may be associated with the necessity for the light-harvesting complexes to adjust their shape in the densely packed photosynthetic membrane.

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