Site-directed mutations were produced at three highly conserved amino acid positions of MSP of the photosystem II (PSII) reaction center in the transformable cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. The highly conserved aspartate at position 9 of the mature MSP was changed to a lysine (strain MSP-D9K) to assess its role in the proposed N-terminal binding region (Eaton-Rye & Murata, 1989; Odom & Bricker, 1992). This strain accumulates normal levels of MSP, and the properties of the H2O-splitting enzyme are only slightly altered relative to the wild-type. In contrast, replacement of cysteine 20 with a serine, which is proposed to disrupt the intramolecular disulfide bridge (Tanaka et al., 1989), produces a phenotype with no detectable accumulation of MSP, despite normal levels of mRNA transcripts. Like the psbO deletion strain, the MSP-C20S mutant exhibits impaired O2 evolution activity and a greater stability of the S2 state as measured by thermoluminescence. Mutation of strictly conserved aspartate 159 to asparagine (MSP-D159N) does not affect the accumulation of MSP, but causes a reduction in the H2O-oxidation activity and thermoluminescence properties intermediate between the wild-type and the psbO deletion strain. In addition, we report upon improved methods for obtaining oxygen-evolving membranes from mutant cells.
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