Close Relationships Between the PSII Repair Cycle and Thylakoid Membrane Dynamics

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Abstract

In chloroplasts, a three-dimensional network of thylakoid membranes is formed by stacked grana and interconnecting stroma thylakoids. The grana are crowded with photosynthetic proteins, where PSII–light harvesting complex II (LHCII) supercomplexes often show semi-crystalline arrays for efficient energy trapping, transfer and use. Although light is essential for photosynthesis, PSII is damaged by reactive oxygen species that are generated from primary photochemical reactions when plants are exposed to excess light. Because PSII complexes are embedded in the lipid bilayers of thylakoid membranes, their functions are affected by the conditions of the lipids. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spin trapping measurements showed that singlet oxygen was formed through peroxidation of thylakoid lipids, suggesting that lipid peroxidation can damage proteins, including the D1 protein. After photodamage, PSII is restored by a specific repair system in thylakoid membranes. In the PSII repair cycle, phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of the PSII proteins control the timing of PSII disassembly and subsequent degradation of the D1 protein. Under light stress, stacked grana turn into unstacked thylakoids with bent grana margins. These structural changes may be closely linked to the mechanisms of the PSII repair cycle because PSII can move more easily from the grana core to the stroma thylakoids through an expanded stromal gap between each thylakoid. Thus, plants modulate the structure of thylakoid membranes under high light to carry out efficient PSII repair. This review focuses on the behavior of the PSII complex and the active role of structural changes to thylakoid membranes under light stress.

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