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Understanding the photoprotective mechanism: correlation of the structure and optical properties of single Light Harvesting proteins

Project Description

Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) is a chlorophyll-protein complex found in plant chloroplasts, estimated to be the most abundant membrane protein on Earth. LHCII has a primary role as the major antenna protein for absorbing solar photons and channelling energy to Photosystem II (PSII), and a crucial secondary role in protection of the system from accumulation of excess energy. This project will use cutting-edge biochemical and biophysical techniques and our world-class microscopy facilities to study how LHCII can switch between different states. Specifically this project aims to: (1) Determine a high-resolution structure of the LHCII in the “light-harvesting” vs “protected” state. (2) Quantify the effect of different protein-lipid interactions on LHCII. (3) Correlate changes in molecular structure with changes in fluorescence. (4) Generate a model for the mechanism of photoprotection. To do this, LHCII will be biochemically purified and characterized with state-of-the-art fluorescence techniques (to monitor photoprotective state) in parallel with single-particle cryo electron microscopy (for structure). You will use LHCII either isolated in detergent suspension or incorporated within nanoscale lipid bilayers to test the effect of lipids. This project would improve our understanding of this important protein and could be exploited by others to develop crops with higher yields.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2019:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference allowance
• Research Costs

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.
EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency in order to receive full studentship

Not all projects advertised will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

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1. Adams PG; Vasilev C; Neil Hunter C; Johnson MP (2018) Correlated fluorescence quenching and topographic mapping of Light-Harvesting Complex II within surface-assembled aggregates and lipid bilayers. BBA Bioenergetics 1859, 1075-1085.

2. Adams PG; et al. (2015) Diblock Copolymer Micelles and Supported Films with Noncovalently Incorporated Chromophores: A Modular Platform for Efficient Energy Transfer. Nano Letters 15, 2422-2428.

3. Agip AA, Blaza JN, Bridges HR, Viscomi C, Rawson S, Muench SP, Hirst J. (2018) Cryo-EM structures of complex I from mouse heart mitochondria in two biochemically defined states. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 7, 548-556.

4. Rawson S, Bisson C, Hurdiss DL, Fazal A, McPhillie MJ, Sedelnikova SE, Baker PJ, Rice DW, Muench SP. (2018) Elucidating the structural basis for differing enzyme inhibitor potency by cryo-EM. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 115, 1795-1800.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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