A novel mode of photoprotection mediated by a cysteine residue in the chlorophyll protein IsiA

Hui Yuan Steven Chen, Dariusz M. Niedzwiedzki, Anindita Bandyopadhyay, Sandeep Biswas, Himadri B. Pakrasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Oxygenic photosynthetic organisms have evolved a multitude of mechanisms for protection against high-light stress. IsiA, a chlorophyll a-binding cyanobacterial protein, serves as an accessory antenna complex for photosystem I. Intriguingly, IsiA can also function as an independent pigment protein complex in the thylakoid membrane and facilitate the dissipation of excess energy, providing photoprotection. The molecular basis of the IsiA-mediated excitation quenching mechanism remains poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate that IsiA uses a novel cysteine-medi-ated process to quench excitation energy. The single cysteine in IsiA in the cyanobacte-rium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 was converted to a valine. Ultrafast fluorescence spectroscopic analysis showed that this single change abolishes the excitation energy quenching ability of IsiA, thus providing direct evidence of the crucial role of this cysteine residue in energy dissipation from excited chlorophylls. Under stress conditions, the mutant cells exhibited enhanced light sensitivity, indicating that the cysteine-mediated quenching process is critically important for photoprotection. IMPORTANCE Cyanobacteria, oxygenic photosynthetic microbes, constantly experience varying light regimes. Light intensities higher than those that saturate the photosynthetic capacity of the organism often lead to redox damage to the photosynthetic apparatus and often cell death. To meet this challenge, cyanobacteria have developed a number of strategies to modulate light absorption and dissipation to ensure maximal photosynthetic productivity and minimal photodamage to cells under extreme light conditions. In this communication, we have determined the critical role of a novel cysteine-mediated mechanism for light energy dissipation in the chlorophyll protein IsiA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03663-20
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Energy dissipation
  • Photoprotection
  • Photosynthesis
  • Synechocystis


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