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Keywords:

  • Chloroplast;
  • electron transport;
  • gene expression;
  • light-harvesting complex;
  • photosynthesis;
  • photosystem I;
  • photosystem II;
  • protein degradation;
  • protein kinase/phosphatase;
  • redox sensor/response regulator

In photosynthesis in chloroplasts, control of thylakoid protein phosphorylation by redox state of inter-photosystem electron carriers makes distribution of absorbed excitation energy between the two photosystems self-regulating. During operation of this regulatory mechanism, reduction of plastoquinone activates a thylakoid protein kinase which phosphorylates the light-harvesting complex LHC II, causing a change in protein recognition that results in redistribution of energy to photosystem I at the expense of photosystem II, thus tending to oxidise the reduced plastoquinone pool. These events correspond to the transition from light-state 1 to light-state 2. The reverse transition (to light-state 1) is initiated by transient oxidation of plastoquinone, inactivation of the LHC II kinase, and return of dephosphorylated LHC II from photosystem I to photosystem II, supplying excitation energy to photosystem II and thereby reducing plastoquinone. State 1-state 2 transitions therefore operate by means of redox control of reversible, post-translational modification of pre-existing proteins. A balance in the rates of light utilization by photosystem I and photosystem II can also be achieved, on longer time-scales and between wider limits, by adjustment of the relative quantities, or stoichiometry, of photosystem I and photosystem II. Recent evidence suggests that adjustment of photosystem stoichiometry is also a response to perturbation of the redox state of inter-photosystem electron carriers, and involves specific redox control of de novo protein synthesis, assembly, and breakdown. It is therefore suggested that the same redox sensor initiates these different adaptations by control of gene expression at different levels, according to the time-scale and amplitude of the response. This integrated feedback control may serve to maintain redox homeostasis, and, as a result, quantum yield. Evidence for the components required by such systems is discussed.