Stoichiometries of electron transport complexes in spinach chloroplasts

John Whitmarsh, Donald R. Ort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stoichiometric relationship among photosystem II complexes, photosystem I complexes, cytochrome b f complexes, high-potential cytochrome b-559, and chlorophyll in spinach chloroplasts has been determined. Two features of this data stand out, in contrast to currently proposed stoichiometries in which the ratio of photosystem II to photosystem I is reported to be 2:1 and the chlorophyll to reaction center ratio to be as low as 260:1. Using a variety of techniques it was found that the stoichiometry of photosystem II:photosystem I:cytochrome b f complex was 1:1:1, within 10%, and that the ratio of total chlorophyll to these components was 600:1, also within 10%. A ratio of two high-potential cytochrome b-559 molecules per 640 chlorophyll, or two molecules per photosystem II reaction center, was found. These ratios were remarkably constant regardless of the time of year or the source of the spinach. The concentration of photosystem II complexes was determined using a pH electrode to measure the flash-induced proton release resulting from water oxidation. The photosystem I reaction center concentration was measured by two different techniques that compared favorably. In the first method a pH electrode was used to measure the amount of flash-induced proton consumption associated with the 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea-insensitive oxidation of N,N,N′,N′-tetramethylphenylenediamine, resulting in the production of hydrogen peroxide. In the second method the amount of P700 oxidized by far-red light was determined using dual-wavelength spectroscopy. The concentration of the cytochrome b f complex was determined assuming 1 mol of cytochrome f per complex. The concentration of cytochrome f was measured spectroscopically by its light-induced turnover and by chemical difference spectra. The concentration of high-potential cytochrome b-559 was determined by chemical difference spectra. In addition to these studies, the light-induced absorbance change exhibiting a peak at 323 nm that has been attributed to the reduction of the primary quinone acceptor of photosystem II has been investigated. This measurement frequently has been used to quantitate the photosystem II to chlorophyll ratio. However, in view of these results it is argued that this technique significantly overestimates the photosystem II concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-389
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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