Photosynthesis Research (v.134, #3)

Preface: ferredoxin by Guy Hanke (233-234).

The development of oxygenic photosynthesis by primordial cyanobacteria ~2.7 billion years ago led to major changes in the components and organization of photosynthetic electron transport to cope with the challenges of an oxygen-enriched atmosphere. We review herein, following the seminal contributions as reported by Jaganathan et al. (Functional genomics and evolution of photosynthetic systems, vol 33, advances in photosynthesis and respiration, Springer, Dordrecht, 2012), how these changes affected carriers and enzymes at the acceptor side of photosystem I (PSI): the electron shuttle ferredoxin (Fd), its isofunctional counterpart flavodoxin (Fld), their redox partner ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase (FNR), and the primary PSI acceptors F x and F A/F B. Protection of the [4Fe–4S] centers of these proteins from oxidative damage was achieved by strengthening binding between the F A/F B polypeptide and the reaction center core containing F x, therefore impairing O2 access to the clusters. Immobilization of F A/F B in the PSI complex led in turn to the recruitment of new soluble electron shuttles. This function was fulfilled by oxygen-insensitive [2Fe–2S] Fd, in which the reactive sulfide atoms of the cluster are shielded from solvent by the polypeptide backbone, and in some algae and cyanobacteria by Fld, which employs a flavin as prosthetic group and is tolerant to oxidants and iron limitation. Tight membrane binding of FNR allowed solid-state electron transfer from PSI bridged by Fd/Fld. Fine tuning of FNR catalytic mechanism led to formidable increases in turnover rates compared with FNRs acting in heterotrophic pathways, favoring Fd/Fld reduction instead of oxygen reduction.
Keywords: Ferredoxin; Flavodoxin; Ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase; Oxygenic photosynthesis; Photosystem I; Evolution

Gallium ferredoxin as a tool to study the effects of ferredoxin binding to photosystem I without ferredoxin reduction by Clara Mignée; Risa Mutoh; Anja Krieger-Liszkay; Genji Kurisu; Pierre Sétif (251-263).
Reduction of ferredoxin by photosystem I (PSI) involves the [4Fe–4S] clusters FA and FB harbored by PsaC, with FB being the direct electron transfer partner of ferredoxin (Fd). Binding of the redox-inactive gallium ferredoxin to PSI was investigated by flash-absorption spectroscopy, studying both the P700+ decay and the reduction of the native iron Fd in the presence of FdGa. FdGa binding resulted in a faster recombination between P700+ and (FA, FB), a slower electron escape from (FA, FB) to exogenous acceptors, and a decreased amount of intracomplex FdFe reduction, in accordance with competitive binding between FdFe and FdGa. [FdGa] titrations of these effects revealed that the dissociation constant for the PSI:FdGa complex is different whether (FA, FB) is oxidized or singly reduced. This difference in binding, together with the increase in the recombination rate, could both be attributed to a c. −30 mV shift of the midpoint potential of (FA, FB), considered as a single electron acceptor, due to FdGa binding. This effect of FdGa binding, which can be extrapolated to FdFe because of the highly similar structure and the identical charge of the two Fds, should help irreversibility of electron transfer within the PSI:Fd complex. The effect of Fd binding on the individual midpoint potentials of FA and FB is also discussed with respect to the possible consequences on intra-PSI electron transfer and on the escape process.
Keywords: Photosynthesis; Cyanobacteria; Electron transfer; Recombination reaction; Electron escape; Redox potential; Ferredoxin binding; Photosystem I inhibitor

Ferredoxin–NADP+ reductase (FNR) catalyzes the last step of linear electron transfer in photosynthetic light reactions. The FAD cofactor of FNR accepts two electrons from two independent reduced ferredoxin molecules (Fd) in two sequential steps, first producing neutral semiquinone and then the fully anionic reduced, or hydroquinone, form of the enzyme (FNRhq). FNRhq transfers then both electrons in a single hydride transfer step to NADP+. We are presenting the recent progress in studies focusing on Fd:FNR interaction and subsequent electron transfer processes as well as on interaction of FNR with NADP+/H followed by hydride transfer, both from the structural and functional point of views. We also present the current knowledge about the physiological role(s) of various FNR isoforms present in the chloroplasts of higher plants and the functional impact of subchloroplastic location of FNR. Moreover, open questions and current challenges about the structure, function, and physiology of FNR are discussed.
Keywords: Ferredoxin; Ferredoxin–NADP+ reductase; Electron transfer; Hydride transfer; Photosynthesis; Chloroplast

In higher plants, ferredoxin (Fd) and ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase (FNR) are each present as distinct isoproteins of photosynthetic type (leaf type) and non-photosynthetic type (root type). Root-type Fd and FNR are considered to facilitate the electron transfer from NADPH to Fd in the direction opposite to that occurring in the photosynthetic processes. We previously reported the crystal structure of the electron transfer complex between maize leaf FNR and Fd (leaf FNR:Fd complex), providing insights into the molecular interactions of the two proteins. Here we show the 2.49 Å crystal structure of the maize root FNR:Fd complex, which reveals that the orientation of FNR and Fd remarkably varies from that of the leaf FNR:Fd complex, giving a structural basis for reversing the redox path. Root FNR was previously shown to interact preferentially with root Fd over leaf Fd, while leaf FNR retains similar affinity for these two types of Fds. The structural basis for such differential interaction was investigated using site-directed mutagenesis of the isotype-specific amino acid residues on the interface of Fd and FNR, based on the crystal structures of the FNR:Fd complexes from maize leaves and roots. Kinetic and physical binding analyses of the resulting mutants lead to the conclusion that the rearrangement of the charged amino acid residues on the Fd-binding surface of FNR confers isotype-specific interaction with Fd, which brings about the evolutional switch between photosynthetic and heterotrophic redox cascades.
Keywords: Ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase; Ferredoxin; Electron transfer complex; X-ray crystal structure; Photosynthetic and heterotrophic assimilation

Association of Ferredoxin:NADP+ oxidoreductase with the photosynthetic apparatus modulates electron transfer in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by Laura Mosebach; Claudia Heilmann; Risa Mutoh; Philipp Gäbelein; Janina Steinbeck; Thomas Happe; Takahisa Ikegami; Guy Hanke; Genji Kurisu; Michael Hippler (291-306).
Ferredoxins (FDX) and the FDX:NADP+ oxidoreductase (FNR) represent a key junction of electron transport downstream of photosystem I (PSI). Dynamic recruitment of FNR to the thylakoid membrane has been considered as a potential mechanism to define the fate of photosynthetically derived electrons. In this study, we investigated the functional importance of the association of FNR with the photosynthetic apparatus in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In vitro assays based on NADP+ photoreduction measurements as well as NMR chemical shift perturbation analyses showed that FNR preferentially interacts with FDX1 compared to FDX2. Notably, binding of FNR to a PSI supercomplex further enhanced this preference for FDX1 over FDX2, suggesting that FNR is potentially capable of channelling electrons towards distinct routes. NADP+ photoreduction assays and immunoblotting revealed that the association of FNR with the thylakoid membrane including the PSI supercomplex is impaired in the absence of Proton Gradient Regulation 5 (PGR5) and/or Proton Gradient Regulation 5-Like photosynthetic phenotype 1 (PGRL1), implying that both proteins, directly or indirectly, contribute to the recruitment of FNR to the thylakoid membrane. As assessed via in vivo absorption spectroscopy and immunoblotting, PSI was the primary target of photodamage in response to high-light stress in the absence of PGR5 and/or PGRL1. Anoxia preserved the activity of PSI, pointing to enhanced electron donation to O2 as the source of the observed PSI inactivation and degradation. These findings establish another perspective on PGR5/PGRL1 knockout-related phenotypes and potentially interconnect FNR with the regulation of photosynthetic electron transport and PSI photoprotection in C. reinhardtii.
Keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ; Electron transport regulation; Ferredoxin:NADP+ oxidoreductase; Ferredoxin; Proton Gradient Regulation 5; PGR5-like photosynthetic phenotype 1

Ferredoxins are soluble iron sulphur proteins which function as electron donors in a number of metabolic pathways in a broad range of organisms. In photosynthetic organisms, PETF, or ferredoxin 1 (FDX1), is the most studied ferredoxin due to its essential role in photosynthesis, where it transfers electrons from photosystem I to ferredoxin-NADP+ oxidoreductase. However, PETF can also transfer electrons to a large number of other proteins. One important PETF electron acceptor found in green microalgae is the biologically and biotechnologically important [FeFe]-hydrogenase HYDA, which catalyses the production of molecular hydrogen (H2) from protons and electrons. The interaction between PETF and HYDA is of considerable interest, as PETF is the primary electron donor to HYDA and electron supply is one of the main limiting factors for H2 production on a commercial scale. Although there is no three dimensional structure of the PETF–HYDA complex available, protein variants, nuclear magnetic resonance titration studies, molecular dynamics and modelling have provided considerable insight into the residues essential for forming and maintaining the interaction. In this review, we discuss the most recent findings with regard to ferredoxin-HYDA interactions and the evolution of the various Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ferredoxin isoforms. Finally, we provide an outlook on new PETF-based biotechnological approaches for improved H2 production efficiencies.
Keywords: Ferredoxin; [FeFe]-hydrogenase; PETF; HYDA1; Interactions

Identification of the ferredoxin interaction sites on ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 by Masakazu Hirasawa; Jacaranda Solis; Nanditha Vaidyanathan; Anurag P. Srivastava; R. Max Wynn; Roger B. Sutton; David B. Knaff (317-328).
Based on in silico docking methods, five amino acids in glutamate synthase (Gln-467, His-1144, Asn-1147, Arg-1162, and Trp-676) likely constitute key binding residues in the interface of a glutamate synthase:ferredoxin complex. Although all interfacial mutants studied showed the ability to form a complex under low ionic strength, these docking mutations showed significantly less ferredoxin-dependent activities, while still retaining enzymatic activity. Furthermore, isothermal titration calorimetry showed a possible 1:2 molar ratio between the wild-type glutamate synthase and ferredoxin. However, each of our interfacial mutants showed only a 1:1 complex with ferredoxin, suggesting that the mutations directly affect the glutamate synthase:ferredoxin heterodimer interface.
Keywords: Glutamate synthase; Ferredoxin; In silico docking; Site-directed mutagenesis; Electrostatic interactions; Isothermal titration calorimetry; Spectral perturbation; Flavin mononucleotide (FMN); Iron–sulfur-binding sites

Photosynthetic fuel for heterologous enzymes: the role of electron carrier proteins by Silas Busck Mellor; Konstantinos Vavitsas; Agnieszka Zygadlo Nielsen; Poul Erik Jensen (329-342).
Plants, cyanobacteria, and algae generate a surplus of redox power through photosynthesis, which makes them attractive for biotechnological exploitations. While central metabolism consumes most of the energy, pathways introduced through metabolic engineering can also tap into this source of reducing power. Recent work on the metabolic engineering of photosynthetic organisms has shown that the electron carriers such as ferredoxin and flavodoxin can be used to couple heterologous enzymes to photosynthetic reducing power. Because these proteins have a plethora of interaction partners and rely on electrostatically steered complex formation, they form productive electron transfer complexes with non-native enzymes. A handful of examples demonstrate channeling of photosynthetic electrons to drive the activity of heterologous enzymes, and these focus mainly on hydrogenases and cytochrome P450s. However, competition from native pathways and inefficient electron transfer rates present major obstacles, which limit the productivity of heterologous reactions coupled to photosynthesis. We discuss specific approaches to address these bottlenecks and ensure high productivity of such enzymes in a photosynthetic context.
Keywords: Ferredoxin; Flavodoxin; Synthetic biology; Metabolic engineering; Cytochrome P450; Photosynthesis

Properties and performance of the recently introduced Dual/KLAS-NIR spectrophotometer for simultaneous measurements of ferredoxin (Fd), P700, and plastocyanin (PC) redox changes, together with whole leaf chlorophyll a (Chl) fluorescence (emission >760, 540 nm excitation) are outlined. Spectral information on in vivo Fd, P700, and PC in the near-infrared region (NIR, 780–1000 nm) is presented, on which the new approach is based. Examples of application focus on dark–light and light–dark transitions, where maximal redox changes of Fd occur. After dark-adaptation, Fd reduction induced by moderate light parallels the Kautsky effect of Chl fluorescence induction. Both signals are affected analogously by removal of O2. A rapid type of Fd reoxidation, observed after a short pulse of light before light activation of linear electron transport (LET), is more pronounced in C4 compared to C3 leaves and interpreted to reflect cyclic PS I (CET). Light activation of LET, as assessed via the rate of Fd reoxidation after short light pulses, occurs at very low intensities and is slowly reversed (half-time ca. 20 min). Illumination with strong far-red light (FR, 740 nm) reveals two fractions of PS I, PS I (LET), and PS I (CET), differing in the rates of Fd reoxidation upon FR-off and the apparent equilibrium constants between P700 and PC. Parallel information on oxidation of Fd and reduction of P700 plus PC proves essential for identification of CET. Comparison of maize (C4) with sunflower and ivy (C3) responses leads to the conclusion that segregation of two types of PS I may not only exist in C4 (mesophyll and bundle sheath cells), but also in C3 photosynthesis (grana margins plus end membranes and stroma lamellae).
Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; C3 and C4 photosynthesis; Cyclic electron transport; Difference spectroscopy; Dual/KLAS-NIR spectrophotometer; Light activation