Most photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes of algae and higher plants are integral membrane proteins and are thus usually isolated in the presence of detergent to provide a hydrophobic interface and prevent aggregation. It was recently shown that the styrene maleic acid (SMA) copolymer can be used instead to solubilize and isolate protein complexes with their native lipid environment into nanodisk particles. We isolated LHCII complexes in SMA and compared their photophysics with trimeric LHCII complexes in β-DM detergent micelles to understand the effect of the native environment on the function of light-harvesting antennae. The triplet state kinetics and the calculated relative absorption cross section of single complexes indicate the successful isolation of trimeric complexes in SMA nanodisks, confirming the trimeric structure as the likely native configuration. The survival time of complexes before they photobleach is increased in SMA compared to detergent which might be explained by a stabilizing effect of the co-purified lipids in nanodisks. We furthermore find an unquenched fluorescence lifetime of 3.5 ns for LHCII in SMA nanodisks which coincides with detergent isolated complexes and notably differs from 2 ns typically found in native thylakoid structures. A large dynamic range of partially quenched complexes both in detergent micelles and lipid nanodisks is demonstrated by correlating the fluorescence lifetime with the intensity and likely reflects the conformational freedom of these complexes. This further supports the hypothesis that fluorescence intermittency is an intrinsic property of LHCII that may be involved in excess energy dissipation in native light-harvesting.
J. Michael Gruber, Stefan Scheidelaar, Henny van Roon, Jan P. Dekker, J. Antoinette Killian, and Rienk van Grondelle, "Photophysics in single light-harvesting complexes II: from micelle to native nanodisks," Proc. SPIE 9714, Single Molecule Spectroscopy and Superresolution Imaging IX, 97140A (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 13, 2016; Published: 1 March 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2211588.
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