Effects of copper and zinc ions on photosystem II studied by EPR spectroscopy

C. Jegerschöld, F. MacMillan, W. Lubitz, A.W. Rutherford

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The effect of Zn or Cu ions on Mn-depleted photosystem II (PS II) has been investigated using EPR spectroscopy. In Zn-treated and Cu-treated PS II, chemical reduction with sodium dithionite gives rise to a signal attributed to the plastosemiquinone, Q(A), the usual interaction with the non-heme iron being lost. The signal was identified by Q-band EPR spectroscopy which partially resolves the typical g-anisotropy of the semiquinone anion radical. Illumination at 200 K of the unreduced samples gives rise to a single organic free radical in Cu-treated PS II, and this is assigned to a monomeric chlorophyll cation radical, Chl a, based on its H-ENDOR spectrum. The Zn-treated PS II under the same conditions gives rise to two radical signals present in equal amounts and attributed to the Chl a and the Q(A) formed by light-induced charge separation. When the Cu-treated PS II is reduced by sodium ascorbate, at ≥77 K electron donation eliminates the donor-side radical leaving the Q(A) EPR signal. The data are explained as follows: (1) Cu and Zn have similar effects on PS II (although higher concentrations of Zn are required) causing the displacement of the non-heme Fe. (2) In both cases chlorophyll is the electron donor at 200 K. It is proposed that the lack of a light-induced Q(A) signal in the unreduced Cu-treated sample is due to Cu acting as an electron acceptor from Q(A) at low temperature, forming the Cu state and leaving the electron donor radical Chl a detectable by EPR. (3) The Cu in PS II is chemically reducible by ascorbate prior to illumination, and the metal can therefore no longer act as an electron acceptor; thus Q(A) is generated by illumination in such samples. (4) With dithionite, both the Cu and the quinone are reduced resulting in the presence of Q(A) in the dark. The suggested high redox potential of Cu when in the Fe site in PS II is in contrast to the situation in the bacterial reaction center where it has been shown in earlier work that the Cu is unreduced by dithionite. It cannot be ruled out however that Q(A)-Cu is formed and a magnetic interaction is responsible for the lack of the Q(A) signal when no exogenous reductant is present. With this alternative possibility, the effects of reductants would be explained as the loss of Cu (due to formation of Cu) leading to loss of the Cu from the Fe site due to the binding equilibrium. The quite different binding and redox behavior of the metal in the iron site in PS II compared to that of the bacterial reaction center is presumably a further reflection of the differences in the coordination of the iron in the two systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12439-12445
Number of pages7
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 1999

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