Monitoring fluorescence of individual chromophores in peridinin-chlorophyll-protein complex using single molecule spectroscopy

S. Wörmke, S. Mackowski, T. H P Brotosudarmo, C. Jung, A. Zumbusch, M. Ehrl, H. Scheer, E. Hofmann, R. G. Hiller, C. Bräuchle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Single molecule spectroscopy experiments are reported for native peridinin-chlorophyll a-protein (PCP) complexes, and three reconstituted light-harvesting systems, where an N-terminal construct of native PCP from Amphidinium carterae has been reconstituted with chlorophyll (Chl) mixtures: with Chl a, with Chl b and with both Chl a and Chl b. Using laser excitation into peridinin (Per) absorption band we take advantage of sub-picosecond energy transfer from Per to Chl that is order of magnitude faster than the Förster energy transfer between the Chl molecules to independently populate each Chl in the complex. The results indicate that reconstituted PCP complexes contain only two Chl molecules, so that they are spectroscopically equivalent to monomers of native-trimeric-PCP and do not aggregate further. Through removal of ensemble averaging we are able to observe for single reconstituted PCP complexes two clear steps in fluorescence intensity timetraces attributed to subsequent bleaching of the two Chl molecules. Importantly, the bleaching of the first Chl affects neither the energy nor the intensity of the emission of the second one. Since in strongly interacting systems Chl is a very efficient quencher of the fluorescence, this behavior implies that the two fluorescing Chls within a PCP monomer interact very weakly with each other which makes it possible to independently monitor the fluorescence of each individual chromophore in the complex. We apply this property, which distinguishes PCP from other light-harvesting systems, to measure the distribution of the energy splitting between two chemically identical Chl a molecules contained in the PCP monomer that reaches 280 cm- 1. In agreement with this interpretation, stepwise bleaching of fluorescence is also observed for native PCP complexes, which contain six Chls. Most PCP complexes reconstituted with both Chl a and Chl b show two emission lines, whose wavelengths correspond to the fluorescence of Chl a and Chl b. This is a clear proof that these two different chromophores are present in a single PCP monomer. Single molecule fluorescence studies of PCP complexes, both native and artificially reconstituted with chlorophyll mixtures, provide new and detailed information necessary to fully understand the energy transfer in this unique light-harvesting system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-964
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


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