A Molecular Mechanism for Nonphotochemical Quenching in Cyanobacteria

Yue Lu, Haijun Liu, Rafael Saer, Veronica L. Li, Hao Zhang, Liuqing Shi, Carrie Goodson, Michael L. Gross, Robert E. Blankenship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The cyanobacterial orange carotenoid protein (OCP) protects photosynthetic cyanobacteria from photodamage by dissipating excess excitation energy collected by phycobilisomes (PBS) as heat. Dissociation of the PBS-OCP complex in vivo is facilitated by another protein known as the fluorescence recovery protein (FRP), which primarily exists as a dimeric complex. We used various mass spectrometry (MS)-based techniques to investigate the molecular mechanism of this FRP-mediated process. FRP in the dimeric state (dFRP) retains its high affinity for the C-terminal domain (CTD) of OCP in the red state (OCPr). Site-directed mutagenesis and native MS suggest the head region on FRP is a candidate to bind OCP. After attachment to the CTD, the conformational changes of dFRP allow it to bridge the two domains, facilitating the reversion of OCPr into the orange state (OCPo) accompanied by a structural rearrangement of dFRP. Interestingly, we found a mutual response between FRP and OCP; that is, FRP and OCPr destabilize each other, whereas FRP and OCPo stabilize each other. A detailed mechanism of FRP function is proposed on the basis of the experimental results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2812-2823
Number of pages12
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 6 2017


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