Photosynthetic vesicle architecture and constraints on efficient energy harvesting

Melih Şener, Johan Strümpfer, John A. Timney, Arvi Freiberg, C. Neil Hunter, Klaus Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Photosynthetic chromatophore vesicles found in some purple bacteria constitute one of the simplest light-harvesting systems in nature. The overall architecture of chromatophore vesicles and the structural integration of vesicle function remain poorly understood despite structural information being available on individual constituent proteins. An all-atom structural model for an entire chromatophore vesicle is presented, which improves upon earlier models by taking into account the stoichiometry of core and antenna complexes determined by the absorption spectrum of intact vesicles in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, as well as the well-established curvature-inducing properties of the dimeric core complex. The absorption spectrum of low-light-adapted vesicles is shown to correspond to a light-harvesting-complex 2 to reaction center ratio of 3:1. A structural model for a vesicle consistent with this stoichiometry is developed and used in the computation of excitonic properties. Considered also is the packing density of antenna and core complexes that is high enough for efficient energy transfer and low enough for quinone diffusion from reaction centers to cytochrome bc1 complexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-75
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 7 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

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    Şener, M., Strümpfer, J., Timney, J. A., Freiberg, A., Hunter, C. N., & Schulten, K. (2010). Photosynthetic vesicle architecture and constraints on efficient energy harvesting. Biophysical journal, 99(1), 67-75.