Cyanobacterial Phycobilisome Allostery as Revealed by Quantitative Mass Spectrometry

Liu, Haijun. “Cyanobacterial Phycobilisome Allostery as Revealed by Quantitative Mass Spectrometry.” Biochemistry (2023).


Phycobilisomes (PBSs) are the major photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes in cyanobacteria and red algae. PBS, a multisubunit protein complex, has two major interfaces that comprise intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs): rod–core and core-membrane. IDRs do not form regular, three-dimensional structures on their own. Their presence in the photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes portends their structural and functional importance. A recent model suggests that PB-loop, an IDR located on the PBS subunit ApcE and C-terminal extension (CTE) of the PBS subunit ApcG, forms a structural protrusion on the PBS core-membrane side, facing the thylakoid membrane. Here, the structural synergy between the rod–core region and the core-membrane region was investigated using quantitative mass spectrometry (MS). The AlphaFold-predicted CpcG-CTE structure was first modeled onto the PBS rod–core region, guided and justified by the isotopically encoded structural MS data. Quantitative cross-linking MS analysis revealed that the structural proximity of the PB-loop in ApcE and ApcG-CTE is significantly disturbed in the absence of six PBS rods, which are attached to PBS via CpcG-CTE, indicative of drastic conformational changes and decreased structural integrity. These results suggest that CpcG-rod attachment on the PBS rod–core side is essentially required for the PBS core-membrane structural assembly. The hypothesized long-range synergy between the rod–core interface (where the orange carotenoid protein also functions) and the terminal energy emitter of PBS must have important regulatory roles in PBS core assembly, light-harvesting, and excitation energy transmission. These data also lend strategies that genetic truncation of the light-harvesting antennas aimed for improved photosynthetic productivity must rely on an in-depth understanding of their global structural integrity.