Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Structure–function analysis of photosystem II subunit S (PsbS) in vivo

Xiao-Ping Li, Alba Phippard, Jae Pasari and Krishna K. Niyogi

Functional Plant Biology 29(10) 1131 - 1139
Published: 18 October 2002


In land plants, photosystem II subunit S (PsbS) plays a key role in xanthophyll- and pH-dependent non-photochemical quenching (qE) of excess absorbed light energy. Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. npq4 mutants are defective in the psbS gene and have impaired qE. Exactly how the PsbS protein is involved in qE is unclear, but it has been proposed that PsbS binds H+ and/or de-epoxidized xanthophylls in excess light as part of the qE mechanism. To identify amino acid residues that are important for PsbS function, we sequenced the psbS gene from eight npq4 point mutant alleles isolated by forward genetics screening, including two new alleles. In the four transmembrane helices of PsbS, several amino acid residues were found to affect the stability and/or function of the protein. By comparing the predicted amino acid sequences of PsbS from several plant species and studying the proposed topological structure of PsbS, eight possible H+-binding amino acid residues on the lumenal side of the protein were identified and then altered by site-directed mutagenesis in vitro. The mutant psbS genes were transformed into npq4-1, a psbS deletion mutant, to test the stability and function of the mutant PsbS proteins in vivo. The results demonstrate that two conserved, protonatable amino acids, E122 and E226, are especially critical for the function of PsbS.

Keywords: Arabidopsis, non-photochemical quenching, photoprotection, PsbS, xanthophyll.

© CSIRO 2002

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