The petE gene encoding plastocyanin precursor protein from the cyanobacterium Anabaena PCC 7937 was introduced in the cyanobacterial host strain Synechococcus PCC 7942. The host normally only uses cytochrome c553 as Photosystem I (PS I) donor. The heterologous gene was efficiently expressed using the inducible Escherichia coli trc promoter. Accumulation of plastocyanin protein depended on the presence of Cu2+. The protein was accurately targeted to the thylakoid lumen, from which it could be isolated in the mature form. Redox difference spectroscopy proved the presence of a Cu2+ ion in the holoenzyme. Isolated heterologous plastocyanin was functional in reconstitution of in vitro electron transfer to PS I. The presence of Anabaena plastocyanin in Synechococcus thylakoid membranes increased PS I electron transfer rate 2.5 times. Analysis of P700 redox and PS II fluorescence transients in vivo showed a faster electron transfer through PS I because of enhanced electron supply in the presence of plastocyanin. In addition, the distribution of electrons between photosynthetic and respiratory electron transfer changed. Plastocyanin preferentially donates electrons to PS I rather than to the respiratory cytochrome-c oxidase complex and is not functionally equivalent to cytochrome c55
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