Orange Carotenoid Protein as a Control Element in an Antenna System Based on a DNA Nanostructure

Taking inspiration from photosynthetic mechanisms in natural systems, we introduced a light-sensitive photo protective quenching element to an artificial light-harvesting antenna model to control the flow of energy as a function of light intensity excitation. The orange carotenoid protein (OCP) is a nonphotochemical quencher in cyanobacteria: under high-light conditions, the protein undergoes a spectral shift, and by binding to the phycobilisome, it absorbs excess light and dissipates it as heat. By the use of DNA as a scaffold, an antenna system made of organic dyes (Cy3 and Cy5) was constructed, and OCP was assembled on it as a modulated quenching element. By controlling the illumination intensity, it is possible to switch the direction of excitation energy transfer from the donor Cy3 to either of two acceptors. Under low-light conditions, energy is transferred from Cy3 to Cy5, and under intense illumination, energy is partially transferred to OCP as well. These results demonstrate the feasibility of controlling the pathway of energy transfer using light intensity in an engineered light-harvesting system.