The energy transfer rates between chlorophylls in the light harvesting complex CP29 of higher plants at room temperature were calculated ab initio according to the Förster mechanism (Förster T. 1948, Ann. Physik. 2:55-67). Recently, the transition moment orientation of CP29 chlorophylls was determined by differential linear dichroism and absorption spectroscopy of wild-type versus mutant proteins in which single chromophores were missing (Simonetto R., Crimi M., Sandonà D., Croce R., Cinque G., Breton J., and Bassi R. 1999. Biochemistry. 38:12974-12983). In this way the Q(y) transition energy and chlorophyll a/b affinity of each binding site was obtained and their characteristics supported by reconstruction of steady-state linear dichroism and absorption spectra at room temperature. In this study, the spectral form of individual chlorophyll a and b ligands within the protein environment was experimentally determined, and their extinction coefficients were also used to evaluate the absolute overlap integral between donors and acceptors employing the Stepanov relation for both the emission spectrum and the Stokes shift. This information was used to calculate the time-dependent excitation redistribution among CP29 chlorophylls on solving numerically the Pauli master equation of the complex: transient absorption measurements in the (sub)picosecond time scale were simulated and compared to pump-and-probe experimental data in the Q(y) region on the native CP29 at room temperature upon selective excitation of chlorophylls b at 640 or 650 nm. The kinetic model indicates a bidirectional excitation transfer over all CP29 chlorophylls a species, which is particularly rapid between the pure sites A1-A2 and A4-A5. Chlorophylls b in mixed sites act mostly as energy donors for chlorophylls a, whereas site B5 shows high and bidirectional coupling independent of the pigment hosted.
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