Biogenesis of the thylakoid membrane
This research project is dedicated to the elucidation of the spatial/temporal organization of TM biogenesis in the cyanobacterial model system Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. As a case study, we focus on the assembly of PSII, especially its oxygen-evolving manganese cluster, which has recently been postulated to take place in specialized biogenesis centers close to the plasma membrane. These centers are marked by the periplasmic PratA factor which transports manganese and, thus, is directly involved in the maturation of the water splitting apparatus of PSII. Other assembly factors we are investigating include the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) protein Pitt which appears to link chlorophyll synthesis to PSII assembly as well as other not yet fully characterized members of the TPR protein family (Figure 1). The goal of the planned work is to gain detailed insights into the molecular working mode as well as the spatial organization of these factors by applying molecular genetical, biochemical/biophysical and electron microscopical methods.
Figure 1: Model of thylakoid membrane biogenesis in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.