Il centro di reazione fotosintetico batterico in ambiente nativo ed artificiale: effetti sul trasferimento elettronico

Dezi, Manuela (2008) Il centro di reazione fotosintetico batterico in ambiente nativo ed artificiale: effetti sul trasferimento elettronico, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia funzionale dei sistemi cellulari e molecolari, 20 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/684.
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In this thesis we focussed on the characterization of the reaction center (RC) protein purified from the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. In particular, we discussed the effects of native and artificial environment on the light-induced electron transfer processes. The native environment consist of the inner antenna LH1 complex that copurifies with the RC forming the so called core complex, and the lipid phase tightly associated with it. In parallel, we analyzed the role of saccharidic glassy matrices on the interplay between electron transfer processes and internal protein dynamics. As a different artificial matrix, we incorporated the RC protein in a layer-by-layer structure with a twofold aim: to check the behaviour of the protein in such an unusual environment and to test the response of the system to herbicides. By examining the RC in its native environment, we found that the light-induced charge separated state P+QB - is markedly stabilized (by about 40 meV) in the core complex as compared to the RC-only system over a physiological pH range. We also verified that, as compared to the average composition of the membrane, the core complex copurifies with a tightly bound lipid complement of about 90 phospholipid molecules per RC, which is strongly enriched in cardiolipin. In parallel, a large ubiquinone pool was found in association with the core complex, giving rise to a quinone concentration about ten times larger than the average one in the membrane. Moreover, this quinone pool is fully functional, i.e. it is promptly available at the QB site during multiple turnover excitation of the RC. The latter two observations suggest important heterogeneities and anisotropies in the native membranes which can in principle account for the stabilization of the charge separated state in the core complex. The thermodynamic and kinetic parameters obtained in the RC-LH1 complex are very close to those measured in intact membranes, indicating that the electron transfer properties of the RC in vivo are essentially determined by its local environment. The studies performed by incorporating the RC into saccharidic matrices evidenced the relevance of solvent-protein interactions and dynamical coupling in determining the kinetics of electron transfer processes. The usual approach when studying the interplay between internal motions and protein function consists in freezing the degrees of freedom of the protein at cryogenic temperature. We proved that the “trehalose approach” offers distinct advantages with respect to this traditional methodology. We showed, in fact, that the RC conformational dynamics, coupled to specific electron transfer processes, can be modulated by varying the hydration level of the trehalose matrix at room temperature, thus allowing to disentangle solvent from temperature effects. The comparison between different saccharidic matrices has revealed that the structural and dynamical protein-matrix coupling depends strongly upon the sugar. The analyses performed in RCs embedded in polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEM) structures have shown that the electron transfer from QA - to QB, a conformationally gated process extremely sensitive to the RC environment, can be strongly modulated by the hydration level of the matrix, confirming analogous results obtained for this electron transfer reaction in sugar matrices. We found that PEM-RCs are a very stable system, particularly suitable to study the thermodynamics and kinetics of herbicide binding to the QB site. These features make PEM-RC structures quite promising in the development of herbicide biosensors. The studies discussed in the present thesis have shown that, although the effects on electron transfer induced by the native and artificial environments tested are markedly different, they can be described on the basis of a common kinetic model which takes into account the static conformational heterogeneity of the RC and the interconversion between conformational substates. Interestingly, the same distribution of rate constants (i.e. a Gamma distribution function) can describe charge recombination processes in solutions of purified RC, in RC-LH1 complexes, in wet and dry RC-PEM structures and in glassy saccharidic matrices over a wide range of hydration levels. In conclusion, the results obtained for RCs in different physico-chemical environments emphasize the relevance of the structure/dynamics solvent/protein coupling in determining the energetics and the kinetics of electron transfer processes in a membrane protein complex.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Dezi, Manuela
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
reaction center core complex electron transfer cardiolipin trehalose
Data di discussione
3 Luglio 2008

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