Effect of protons and cations on chloroplast membranes as visualized by the bound ANS fluorescence

Usha Prasad, G. S. Singhal, P. Mohanty

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Structural changes in the chloroplast membranes caused by acidification and heat-treatment are studied by observing the changes in the fluorescence of ANS bound to thylakoid membranes. On addition of acids to buffered suspension of isolated pea chloroplasts, the fluorescence intensity of bound ANS shows a sigmoidal rise on reaching a pH value of about 4.5. A part of the fluorescence enhancement of bound ANS brought about by protons is not reversible on back titration with alkali. The reversible part of acid induced rise in ANS fluorescence possibly reflects structural changes expected to be associated with photophosphorylation. Divalent cations enhance the fluorescence of ANS bound to chloroplasts between a pH range 4.5-7.0 but diminish it if the pH is below 4.5. Addition of acid to heat-treated chloroplasts shows similar sigmoidal rise in ANS fluorescence intensity on lowering the pH to about 4.5. On addition of acid upto a pH of 3.1, the ANS fluorescence is greater than that of untreated chloroplasts, however, at pH below 3.1, the fluorescence of bound ANS is lower than the control chloroplasts. This observation indicates that heat-treatment caused some alteration of the microstructure of thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts besides the usual loss in the O2 evolving capacity. This is further confirmed from the studies of Hill-activity and ANS binding to chloroplasts incubated at various temperatures in the absence and presence of aliphatic alcohol. Hill-activity (DCPIP reduction) of chloroplasts incubated at temperatures between 25‡ C and 55‡ C first increases reaching a maximum at 45‡ C and then declines rather sharply, when the chloroplasts are heated beyond 45‡ C (Tmax). The presence of 200 mM n-butyl alcohol or 40 mM n-amyl alcohol during the warming treatment lowers the temperature by 8‡ C at which the decline in the Hill-activity is observed. An enhancement in the fluorescence intensity and a blue shift of the emission spectrum of bound ANS are noted if the chloroplasts are heated beyond the Tmax either in absence or presence of alcohol. The changes in the fluorescence of ANS bound to heat-treated chloroplasts plausibly reflect the nature of the structural changes in chloroplasts during the heating upto 55‡ C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-274
Number of pages16
JournalBiophysics of Structure and Mechanism
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 1977


  • ANS fluorescence
  • Hill-activity
  • Protonated/heated chloroplasts


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