Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics

Photosystem II: the engine of life

James Barber a1c1
a1 Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, Wolfson Laboratories, Department of Biological Sciences, London SW7 2AY, UK

Article author query
barber j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


1. Introduction 71

2. Electron transfer in PS II 72

3. (Mn)4 cluster and mechanism of water oxidation 73

4. Organization and structure of the protein subunits 75

5. Organization of chlorophylls and redox active cofactors 81

6. Implications arising from the structural models 82

7. Perspectives 84

8. Acknowledgements 86

9. Addendum 86

10. References 87

Photosystem II (PS II) is a multisubunit membrane protein complex, which uses light energy to oxidize water and reduce plastoquinone. High-resolution electron cryomicroscopy and X-ray crystallography are revealing the structure of this important molecular machine. Both approaches have contributed to our understanding of the organization of the transmembrane helices of higher plant and cyanobacterial PS II and both indicate that PS II normally functions as a dimer. However the high-resolution electron density maps derived from X-ray crystallography currently at 3·7/3·8 Å, have allowed assignments to be made to the redox active cofactors involved in the light-driven water–plastoquinone oxidoreductase activity and to the chlorophyll molecules that absorb and transfer energy to the reaction centre. In particular the X-ray work has identified density that can accommodate the four manganese atoms which catalyse the water-oxidation process. The Mn cluster is located at the lumenal surface of the D1 protein and approximately 7 Å from the redox active tyrosine residue (YZ) which acts an electron/proton transfer link to the primary oxidant P680.+. The lower resolution electron microscopy studies, however, are providing structural models of larger PS II supercomplexes that are ideal frameworks in which to incorporate the X-ray derived structures.

(Published Online January 27 2003)

c1 Tel.: 44 2075945266; Fax: 44 2075945267; E-mail: j.barber@ic.ac.uk