Mutation of Glu69 to Gln in the D2 protein of photosystem II is known to lead to a loss of photoautotrophic growth in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. However, second-site mutants (pseudorevertants) with restored photoautotrophic growth but still maintaining the E69Q mutation in D2 are easily obtained. Using a genomic mapping technique involving functional complementation, the secondary mutation was mapped to slr0286 in two independent mutants. The mutations in Slr0286 were R42M or R394H. To study the function of Slr0286, mutants of E69Q and of the wild-type strain were made that lacked slr 0286. Deletion of slr0286 did not affect photoautotrophic capacity in wild type but led to a marked decrease in the apparent affinity of Ca2+ to its binding site at the water-splitting system of photosystem II and to a reduced heat tolerance of the oxygen-evolving system, particularly in E69Q. Moreover, a small increase in the half-time for photoactivation of the oxygen-evolving complex of photosystem II for both wild type and the E69Q mutant was observed in the absence of Slr0286. The accumulation of photosystem II reaction centers, dark stability of the oxygen-evolving apparatus, stability of oxygen evolution, and the kinetics of charge recombination between QA- and the donor side were not affected by deletion of slr0286. Slr0286 lacks clear functional motifs, and no homologues are apparent in other organisms, even not in other cyanobacteria. In any case, Slr0286 appears to help the functional assembly and stability of the water-splitting system of photosystem II.
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