A chlorophyll-protein complex of chloroplast membranes, which simultaneously serves as light-harvesting antenna and membrane adhesion factor, undergoes reversible, lateral diffusion between appressed and nonappressed membrane regions under the control of a protein kinase. The phosphorylation-dependent migration process regulates the amount of light energy that is delivered to the reaction centers of photosystems I and II (PS I and PS II), and thereby regulates their rate of turnover. This regulatory mechanism provides a rationale for the finding that the two photosystems are physically separated in chloroplast membranes (PS II in appressed, grana membranes, and PS I in nonappressed, stroma membranes). The feedback system involves the following steps: a membrane-bound kinase senses the rate of PS II vs. PS I turnover via the oxidation-reduction state of the plastoquinone pool, which shuttles electrons from PS II via cytochrome f to PS I. If activated, the kinase adds negative charge (phosphate) to a grana-localized pigment-protein complex. The change in its surface charge at a site critical for promoting membrane adhesion results in increased electrostatic repulsion between the membranes, unstacking, the lateral movement of the complex to adjacent stroma membranes, which differ in their functional composition. The general significance of this type of membrane regulatory mechanism is discussed.

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