Studying nonlinear optical properties of the plant light-harvesting protein LHCII

by Schubert, Axel

Abstract (Summary)
Ultra-fast excitation energy transfer (EET) between excited states of organic pigment molecules in photosynthetic antenna complexes belongs to the fastest observed biological processes. Such EET phenomena has been studied to a large extent for the main light- harvesting complex of the higher plants (LHCII), which appears to play an exceptional role for the regulatory function (i.e. light adaptation) of the plant photosynthetic apparatus. The structure of this pigment-protein complex harboring more than 50 % of the total chlorophyll (Chl) content is known with 3.4 Å resolution and reveals the binding sites of 5 Chl b and 7 Chl a per monomeric unit. Based on this structure analysis, EET calculations are (in principle) available on the molecular level under the assumption of Förster-type transfer. However, several molecular features like mutual pigment orientations and electronic interactions between their transition dipoles are still rather uncertain. Since conventional spectroscopic techniques can hardly reveal the corresponding parameters, this work was aimed at the evaluation of newly introduced laser spectroscopic techniques with respect to these questions. In the beginning, suitability and significance of the method when applied to highly complicated structures like pigment-protein complexes were studied by modeling heterogeneous, LHCII-like absorption systems in NLPF experiments. Based on recent improvements in the NLPF theory by a parallel theoretical investigation [1], these simulations clarified the sensitivity of the NLPF method on numerous physical parameters. As a major consequence, unambiguous evaluations of NLPF measurements appear to require substantial additional information about the investigated system. Accordingly, several supplementary methods like nonlinear absorption (using fs-pulses), intensity-dependent NLPF, single- molecule spectroscopy, and NLPF at low temperatures were employed. These investigations revealed unique information about excitonic interaction between certain Chl(s), including implications for the overall EET scheme. The sub-structure model for the Qy-absorption region of LHCII was further essentially improved by the analysis of reconstituted proteins with selectively modified Chl binding residues in the amino-acid sequence. The sum of all complementary investigations allowed finally the evaluation of room temperature NLPF measurements of trimeric LHCII. Due to the unique selectivity of the spectra to individual transition-dipole directions, several orientation parameters have been obtained. Under this point of view, the NLPF method has indeed revealed a high potential as compared to conventional techniques like circular dichroism spectroscopy. Moreover, the understanding of nonlinear phenomena in the Qy-absorption region of LHCII as a consequence of molecular interaction provides further knowledge for the application of other nonlinear optical experiments. Concluding, implications of the obtained results for the structure-function relationship of intra- and inter-complex EET were elucidated.
This document abstract is also available in German.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

School Location:Germany

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:Anregungsenergietransfer lichtsammelnder Komplex LHCII Excitation energy transfer Excitonic interaction Light-harvesting complex Nonlinear polarization spectroscopy


Date of Publication:05/11/2004

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