The gene coding for cytochrome c-550 in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 was cloned based on the N-terminal sequence of the mature polypeptide. Using the most probable translation start codon, the gene is expected to code for 160 amino acid residues. This includes a cleavable N-terminal leader sequence of 25 residues. This leader sequence has an Arg-Asn-Arg sequence immediately before the cleavage site; this is characteristic for transit peptides in prokaryotes. Comparison of this sequence with the leader sequence of the photosystem II-associated extrinsic 33-kDa protein from the same cyanobacterium showed an identity of 13 out of 25 residues. These results suggest that after synthesis of the apoprotein, cytochrome c-550 is transported into the thylakoid lumen. Using the cloned gene, insertion and deletion mutants of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 were constructed. In the absence of cytochrome c-550, both mutants were capable of photoautetrophic growth but at a significantly reduced rate. Atrazine binding and Western blot analysis showed that these mutants on a per-chlorophyll basis contained 53- 67% of the amount of photosystem II as compared with wild type. The photosystem II-specific oxygen-evolving activity at saturating light intensity was reduced to about 40% of that in the wild type strain. Taken together, these results indicate that the cytochrome c-550 is transported into the thylakoid lumen and contributes to optimal functional stability of photosystem II in cyanobacteria. This supports our biochemical evidence that cytochrome c-550 is associated with the lumenal side of photosystem II as one of the extrinsic proteins enhancing oxygen evolution (Shen, J.-R., Ikeuchi, M., and Inoue, Y. (1992) FEBS Lett. 301, 145-149; Shen, J.-R., and Inoue, Y. (1993) Biochemistry 32, 18251832). Based on these results, the gene for cytochrome c-550 was named psbV. The possible evolutionary relationship among extrinsic proteins of the photosystem II donor side is discussed.
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