Membrane crystals of the light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b protein complex from pea chloroplasts were investigated using electron microscopy and image analysis. The membrane crystals formed upon precipitation of the detergent-solubilized complex with mono- and divalent cations in the presence of small amounts of Triton X-100. The crystalline fraction contained two polypeptides of 25,000 and 27,000 mol wt. Freeze-dried and freeze-etched specimens showed a periodic honeycomb structure on the surface of membrane crystals. Double replicas of freeze-fractured sheets showed a hexagonal lattice of particles on both fracture faces. Image analysis of negatively stained membrane crystals suggested that they had threefold rather than sixfold symmetry in projection. A projection map at 20-A resolution revealed two triangular structural units of opposite handedness per crystallographic unit cell. The structural units appeared to be inserted bidirectionally into the membrane, alternating in orientation perpendicular to the membrane plane.

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