Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fusion protein controls design of photosynthesis platform

13.05.2015

Collaborative project uncovers the role of a protein in the formation and maintenance of the inner membrane structures of photosynthetic systems

Chloroplasts are the solar cells of plants and green algae. In a process called photosynthesis, light energy is used to produce biochemical energy and the oxygen we breathe. Thus, photosynthesis is one of the most important biological processes on the planet.


An IM30 ring docks with internal membranes. In the background is part of an image of a blue-green alga prepared using an electron microscope. A 3D model of the IM30 ring can be seen in the foreground. The images are not to scale.

Source: Dirk Schneider and Jürgen Markl

A central part of photosynthesis takes place in a specialized structure within chloroplasts, the thylakoid membrane system. Despite its apparent important function, until now it was not clear how this specialized internal membrane system is actually formed.

In a collaborative project, researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany have now identified how this membrane is generated. According to their findings, a protein called IM30 plays a major role by triggering the fusion of internal membranes. The study elucidating the role of IM30 involved biologists, chemists, biochemists, and biophysicists at Mainz University and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. Their results have recently been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Chloroplasts are organelles found in higher plants and green algae. They contain an internal membrane system, so-called thylakoid membranes, where the key processes of photosynthesis take place. "A detailed understanding of photosynthesis and the associated molecular processes is essential to properly comprehend life on our planet," emphasized Professor Dirk Schneider of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry at JGU, who coordinated the study.

"Despite the significance of the process, we know almost nothing about how these special membranes are formed and maintained." It had not previously been possible to identify a single fusion-mediating protein in photosynthetic cells, even though it was perfectly clear that such proteins have to be involved in the development of thylakoid membranes.

With this in mind, the Mainz-based research team isolated and investigated the protein IM30 from a blue-green alga, which might be classified as a "free-living chloroplast." IM30 – the "IM" stands for "internal membrane" while 30 is its atomic mass (30 kilodaltons) – was first described in the mid-1990s and it was demonstrated that it binds to internal membranes.

Thanks to the combined expertise of the teams headed by Professor Dirk Schneider, Professor Jürgen Markl of the JGU Institute of Zoology, and Professor Tobias Weidner of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research it has now emerged that IM30 forms a ring structure that specifically interacts with phospholipids of the membranes.

"This binding alters the membrane structure and under certain conditions can lead to membrane fusion," explained Schneider. In absence of IM30, thylakoid membranes are noticeably deteriorated, which can subsequently lead to loss of cell viability. The IM30 fusion protein provides a starting point for future research, unraveling new types of membrane fusion mechanisms in chloroplasts and blue-green algae.

The interdisciplinary research project was primarily undertaken by doctoral candidates at the Max Planck Graduate Center (MPGC). The MPGC was founded in June 2009 to support joint projects and shared doctorates at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Max Planck Institutes for Polymer Research and for Chemistry, both of which are based in Mainz.

Publication:
Raoul Hennig et al.
IM30 triggers membrane fusion in cyanobacteria and chloroplasts
Nature Communications, 8. Mai 2015
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8018

Further information:
Professor Dr. Dirk Schneider
Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry – Therapeutic Life Sciences
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-25833
fax +49 6131 39-25348
e-mail: dirk.schneider@uni-mainz.de
http://www.bio.chemie.uni-mainz.de/46.php

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/18298_ENG_HTML.php - press release ;
http://www.bio.chemie.uni-mainz.de/46.php – Prof. Dirk Schneider ;
http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/312_DEU_HTML.php – Prof. Jürgen Markl ;
http://www.mpip-mainz.mpg.de/~weidner – Prof. Tobias Weidner ;
http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications – Nature Communications

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>