Triplet Energy Transfer between the Primary Donor and Carotenoids in Rhodobacter sphaeroides R-26.1 Reaction Centers Incorporated with Spheroidene Analogs Having Different Extents of π-Electron Conjugation


*Department of Chemistry, 215 Glenbrook Road, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-4060, USA. Fax: 860-486-3772; e-mail:


Abstract— Three carotenoids, spheroidene, 3,4-dihydrospheroidene and 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrospheroidene, having 8, 9 and 10 conjugated carbon-carbon double bonds, respectively, were incorporated into Rhodobacter (Rb.) sphaeroides R-26.1 reaction centers. The extents of binding were found to be 95±5% for spheroidene, 65±5% for 3,4-dihydrospheroidene and 60±10% for 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrospheroidene. The dynamics of the triplet states of the primary donor and carotenoid were measured at room temperature by flash absorption spectroscopy. The carotenoid, spheroidene, was observed to quench the primary donor triplet state. The triplet state of spheroidene that was formed subsequently decayed to the ground state with a lifetime of 7.0±0.5 μs. The primary donor triplet lifetime in the Rb. sphaeroides R-26.1 reaction centers lacking carotenoids was 60±5 μs. Quenching of the primary donor triplet state by the carotenoid was not observed in the Rb. sphaeroides R-26.1 reaction centers containing 3,4-dihydrospheroidene nor in the R-26.1 reaction centers containing 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrospheroidene. Triplet-state electron paramagnetic resonance was also carried out on the samples. The experiments revealed carotenoid triple-state signals in the Rb. sphaeroides R-26.1 reaction centers incorporated with spheroidene, indicating that the primary donor triplet is quenched by the carotenoid. No carotenoid signals were observed from Rb. sphaeroides R-26.1 reaction centers incorporating 3,4-dihydrospheroidene nor in reaction centers incorporating 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrospheroidene. Circular dichroism, steady-state absorbance band shifts accompanying the primary photochemistry in the reaction center and singlet energy transfer from the carotenoid to the primary donor confirm that the carotenoids are bound in the reaction centers and interacting with the primary donor. These studies provide a systematic approach to exploring the effects of carotenoid structure and excited state energy on triplet transfer between the primary donor and carotenoids in reaction centers from photosynthetic bacteria.