Thylakoid membrane lipid sulfoquinovosyl-diacylglycerol (SQDG) is required for full functioning of photosystem II in Thermosynechococcus elongatus

Yoshiki Nakajima, Yasufumi Umena, Ryo Nagao, Kaichiro Endo, Koichi Kobayashi, Fusamichi Akita, Michihiro Suga, Hajime Wada, Takumi Noguchi, Jian Ren Shen

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Sulfoquinovosyl-diacylglycerol (SQDG) is one of the four lipids present in the thylakoid membranes. Depletion of SQDG causes different degrees of effects on photosynthetic growth and activities in different organisms. Four SQDG molecules bind to each monomer of photosystem II (PSII), but their role in PSII function has not been characterized in detail, and no PSII structure without SQDG has been reported. We analyzed the activities of PSII from an SQDG-deficient mutant of the cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus by various spectroscopic methods, which showed that depletion of SQDG partially impaired the PSII activity by impairing secondary quinone (QB) exchange at the acceptor site. We further solved the crystal structure of the PSII dimer from the SQDG deletion mutant at 2.1 Å resolution and found that all of the four SQDG-binding sites were occupied by other lipids, most likely PG molecules. Replacement of SQDG at a site near the head of QB provides a possible explanation for the QB impairment. The replacement of two SQDGs located at the monomer–monomer interface by other lipids decreased the stability of the PSII dimer, resulting in an increase in the amount of PSII monomer in the mutant. The present results thus suggest that although SQDG binding in all of the PSII-binding sites is necessary to fully maintain the activity and stability of PSII, replacement of SQDG by other lipids can partially compensate for their functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14786-14797
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - Sep 21 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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