The structural and topological stability of thylakoid components under photoinhibitory conditions (4,500 microE.m-2.s-1 white light) was studied on Mn depleted thylakoids isolated from spinach leaves. After various exposures to photoinhibitory light, the chlorophyll-protein complexes of both photosystems I and II were separated by sucrose gradient centrifugation and analysed by Western blotting, using a set of polyclonals raised against various apoproteins of the photosynthetic apparatus. A series of events occurring during donor side photoinhibition are described for photosystem II, including: (a) lowering of the oligomerization state of the photosystem II core; (b) cleavage of 32-kD protein D1 at specific sites; (c) dissociation of chlorophyll-protein CP43 from the photosystem II core; and (d) migration of damaged photosystem II components from the grana to the stroma lamellae. A tentative scheme for the succession of these events is illustrated. Some effects of photoinhibition on photosystem I are also reported involving dissociation of antenna chlorophyll-proteins LHCI from the photosystem I reaction center.

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