Structure of spinach photosystem II-LHCII supercomplex at 3.2 Å resolution

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During photosynthesis, the plant photosystem II core complex receives excitation energy from the peripheral light-harvesting complex II (LHCII). The pathways along which excitation energy is transferred between them, and their assembly mechanisms, remain to be deciphered through high-resolution structural studies. Here we report the structure of a 1.1-megadalton spinach photosystem II-LHCII supercomplex solved at 3.2 Å resolution through single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. The structure reveals a homodimeric supramolecular system in which each monomer contains 25 protein subunits, 105 chlorophylls, 28 carotenoids and other cofactors. Three extrinsic subunits (PsbO, PsbP and PsbQ), which are essential for optimal oxygen-evolving activity of photosystem II, form a triangular crown that shields the Mn4CaO5-binding domains of CP43 and D1. One major trimeric and two minor monomeric LHCIIs associate with each core-complex monomer, and the antenna-core interactions are reinforced by three small intrinsic subunits (PsbW, PsbH and PsbZ). By analysing the closely connected interfacial chlorophylls, we have obtained detailed insights into the energy-transfer pathways between the antenna and core complexes.

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