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1.  Crystal structure of CyanoQ from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus and detection in isolated photosystem II complexes 
Photosynthesis Research  2014;122(1):57-67.
The PsbQ-like protein, termed CyanoQ, found in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is thought to bind to the lumenal surface of photosystem II (PSII), helping to shield the Mn4CaO5 oxygen-evolving cluster. CyanoQ is, however, absent from the crystal structures of PSII isolated from thermophilic cyanobacteria raising the possibility that the association of CyanoQ with PSII might not be a conserved feature. Here, we show that CyanoQ (encoded by tll2057) is indeed expressed in the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus and provide evidence in support of its assignment as a lipoprotein. Using an immunochemical approach, we show that CyanoQ co-purifies with PSII and is actually present in highly pure PSII samples used to generate PSII crystals. The absence of CyanoQ in the final crystal structure is possibly due to detachment of CyanoQ during crystallisation or its presence in sub-stoichiometric amounts. In contrast, the PsbP homologue, CyanoP, is severely depleted in isolated PSII complexes. We have also determined the crystal structure of CyanoQ from T. elongatus to a resolution of 1.6 Å. It lacks bound metal ions and contains a four-helix up-down bundle similar to the ones found in Synechocystis CyanoQ and spinach PsbQ. However, the N-terminal region and extensive lysine patch that are thought to be important for binding of PsbQ to PSII are not conserved in T. elongatus CyanoQ.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11120-014-0010-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4180030  PMID: 24838684
Photosynthetic oxygen evolution; PsbQ; PsbQ’; CyanoP; Psb27; Peroxiredoxin
2.  Production of leafy biomass using temporary immersion bioreactors: an alternative platform to express proteins in transplastomic plants with drastic phenotypes 
Planta  2012;237(3):903-908.
Chloroplast transformation technology is a promising approach for the production of foreign proteins in plants with expression levels of up to 70 % of total soluble protein (TSP) achieved in tobacco. However, expression of foreign protein in the chloroplast can lead to drastic or even lethal effects in transplastomic plants grown in soil, thereby potentially limiting the applicability of this technology. For instance, previous attempts to express the outer surface protein A (OspA) from Borrelia burgdorferi in tobacco chloroplasts led to plant death when expressed at 10 % TSP. We show here that this earlier transplastomic line, as well as a new plant line, OspA:YFP, expressing OspA fused to the yellow fluorescent protein, can be propagated in temporary immersion bioreactors (TIBs) using AlkaBurst™ technology to produce leafy biomass that expressed OspA at levels of up to 7.6 % TSP, to give a maximum yield of OspA of about 108 mg/L. Our results show that TIBs provide an alternative method for the production of transplastomic biomass expressing proteins toxic for plants and is a particularly useful approach when ‘absolute’ containment is required.
PMCID: PMC3579415  PMID: 23262582
Chloroplast transformation; Containment; Leafy biomass; Temporary immersion bioreactor
3.  Investigating the Production of Foreign Membrane Proteins in Tobacco Chloroplasts: Expression of an Algal Plastid Terminal Oxidase 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41722.
Chloroplast transformation provides an inexpensive, easily scalable production platform for expression of recombinant proteins in plants. However, this technology has been largely limited to the production of soluble proteins. Here we have tested the ability of tobacco chloroplasts to express a membrane protein, namely plastid terminal oxidase 1 from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Cr-PTOX1), which is predicted to function as a plastoquinol oxidase. A homoplastomic plant containing a codon-optimised version of the nuclear gene encoding PTOX1, driven by the 16S rRNA promoter and 5′UTR of gene 10 from phage T7, was generated using a particle delivery system. Accumulation of Cr-PTOX1 was shown by immunoblotting and expression in an enzymatically active form was confirmed by using chlorophyll fluorescence to measure changes in the redox state of the plastoquinone pool in leaves. Growth of Cr-PTOX1 expressing plants was, however, more sensitive to high light than WT. Overall our results confirm the feasibility of using plastid transformation as a means of expressing foreign membrane proteins in the chloroplast.
PMCID: PMC3404998  PMID: 22848578
4.  Recent advances in understanding the assembly and repair of photosystem II 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(1):1-16.
Photosystem II (PSII) is the light-driven water:plastoquinone oxidoreductase of oxygenic photosynthesis and is found in the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts and cyanobacteria. Considerable attention is focused on how PSII is assembled in vivo and how it is repaired following irreversible damage by visible light (so-called photoinhibition). Understanding these processes might lead to the development of plants with improved growth characteristics especially under conditions of abiotic stress.
Here we summarize recent results on the assembly and repair of PSII in cyanobacteria, which are excellent model organisms to study higher plant photosynthesis.
Assembly of PSII is highly co-ordinated and proceeds through a number of distinct assembly intermediates. Associated with these assembly complexes are proteins that are not found in the final functional PSII complex. Structural information and possible functions are beginning to emerge for several of these ‘assembly’ factors, notably Ycf48/Hcf136, Psb27 and Psb28. A number of other auxiliary proteins have been identified that appear to have evolved since the divergence of chloroplasts and cyanobacteria. The repair of PSII involves partial disassembly of the damaged complex, the selective replacement of the damaged sub-unit (predominantly the D1 sub-unit) by a newly synthesized copy, and reassembly. It is likely that chlorophyll released during the repair process is temporarily stored by small CAB-like proteins (SCPs). A model is proposed in which damaged D1 is removed in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 by a hetero-oligomeric complex composed of two different types of FtsH sub-unit (FtsH2 and FtsH3), with degradation proceeding from the N-terminus of D1 in a highly processive reaction. It is postulated that a similar mechanism of D1 degradation also operates in chloroplasts. Deg proteases are not required for D1 degradation in Synechocystis 6803 but members of this protease family might play a supplementary role in D1 degradation in chloroplasts under extreme conditions.
PMCID: PMC2889791  PMID: 20338950
Photosynthesis; photosystem II; photoinhibition; D1 turnover; assembly factor; membrane protein; FtsH protease; Deg protease
5.  Isolation and Characterization of cDNA Encoding Three Dehydrins Expressed During Coffea canephora (Robusta) Grain Development 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(5):755-765.
• Background and Aims Dehydrins, or group 2 late embryogenic abundant proteins (LEA), are hydrophilic Gly-rich proteins that are induced in vegetative tissues in response to dehydration, elevated salt, and low temperature, in addition to being expressed during the late stages of seed maturation. With the aim of characterizing and studying genes involved in osmotic stress tolerance in coffee, several full-length cDNA-encoding dehydrins (CcDH1, CcDH2 and CcDH3) and an LEA protein (CcLEA1) from Coffea canephora (robusta) were isolated and characterized.
• Methods The protein sequences deduced from the full-length cDNA were analysed to classify each dehydrin/LEA gene product and RT–PCR was used to determine the expression pattern of all four genes during pericarp and grain development, and in several other tissues of C. arabica and C. canephora. Primer-assisted genome walking was used to isolate the promoter region of the grain specific dehydrin gene (CcDH2).
• Key Results The CcDH1 and CcDH2 genes encode Y3SK2 dehydrins and the CcDH3 gene encodes an SK3 dehydrin. CcDH1 and CcDH2 are expressed during the final stages of arabica and robusta grain development, but only the CcDH1 transcripts are clearly detected in other tissues such as pericarp, leaves and flowers. CcDH3 transcripts are also found in developing arabica and robusta grain, in addition to being detected in pericarp, stem, leaves and flowers. CcLEA1 transcripts were only detected during a brief period of grain development. Finally, over 1 kb of genomic sequence potentially encoding the entire grain-specific promoter region of the CcDH2 gene was isolated and characterized.
• Conclusions cDNA sequences for three dehydrins and one LEA protein have been obtained and the expression of the associated genes has been determined in various tissues of arabica and robusta coffees. Because induction of dehydrin gene expression is associated with osmotic stress in other plants, the dehydrin sequences presented here will facilitate future studies on the induction and control of the osmotic stress response in coffee. The unique expression pattern observed for CcLEA1, and the expression of a related gene in other plants, suggests that this gene may play an important role in the development of grain endosperm tissue. Genomic DNA containing the grain-specific CcDH2 promoter region has been cloned. Sequence analysis indicates that this promoter contains several putative regulatory sites implicated in the control of both seed- and osmotic stress-specific gene expression. Thus, the CcDH2 promoter is likely to be a useful tool for basic studies on the control of gene expression during both grain maturation and osmotic stress in coffee.
PMCID: PMC2803416  PMID: 16504969
Dehydrins; late embryogenic abundant protein (LEA); seed development; Coffea; C. canephora; C. arabica; Rubiaceae

Results 1-5 (5)