Targeted random mutagenesis to identify functionally important residues in the D2 protein of photosystem II in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803

S. Ermakova-Gerdes, Z. Yu, Willem Vermaas

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9 Scopus citations


To identify important residues in the D2 protein of photosystem II (PSII) in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803, we randomly mutagenized a region of psbDI (coding for a 96-residue-long C-terminal part of D2) with sodium bisulfite. Mutagenized plasmids were introduced into a Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 mutant that lacks both psbD genes, and mutants with impaired PSII function were selected. Nine D2 residues were identified that are important for PSII stability and/or function, as their mutation led to impairment of photoautotrophic growth. Five of these residues are likely to be involved in the formation of the Q(A)-binding niche; these are Ala249, Ser254, Gly258, Ala260, and His268. Three others (Gly278, Ser283, and Gly288) are in transmembrane α-helix E, and their alteration leads to destabilization of PSII but not to major functional alterations of the remaining centers, indicating that they are unlikely to interact directly with cofactors. In the C-terminal lumenal tail of D2, only one residue (Arg294) was identified as functionally important for PSII. However, from the number of mutants generated it is likely that most or all of the 70 residues that are susceptible to bisulfite mutagenesis have been altered at least once. The fact that mutations in most of these residues have not been picked up by our screening method suggests that these mutations led to a normal photoautotrophic phenotype. A novel method of intragenic complementation in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 was developed to facilitate genetic analysis of psbDI mutants containing several amino acid changes in the targeted domain. Recombination between genome copies in the same cell appears to be much more prevalent in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 than was generally assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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