American Chemical Society
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Native Electrospray Mass Spectrometry Reveals the Nature and Stoichiometry of Pigments in the FMO Photosynthetic Antenna Protein

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journal contribution
posted on 2011-05-03, 00:00 authored by Jianzhong Wen, Hao Zhang, Michael L. Gross, Robert E. Blankenship
The nature and stoichiometry of pigments in the Fenna−Matthews−Olson (FMO) photosynthetic antenna protein complex were determined by native electrospray mass spectrometry. The FMO antenna complex was the first chlorophyll-containing protein that was crystallized. Previous results indicate that the FMO protein forms a trimer with seven bacteriochlorophyll a in each monomer. This model has long been a working basis to understand the molecular mechanism of energy transfer through pigment/pigment and pigment/protein coupling. Recent results have suggested, however, that an eighth bacteriochlorophyll is present in some subunits. In this report, a direct mass spectrometry measurement of the molecular weight of the intact FMO protein complex clearly indicates the existence of an eighth pigment, which is assigned as a bacteriochlorophyll a by mass analysis of the complex and HPLC analysis of the pigment. The eighth pigment is found to be easily lost during purification, which results in its partial occupancy in the mass spectra of the intact complex prepared by different procedures. The results are consistent with the recent X-ray structural models. The existence of the eighth bacteriochlorophyll a in this model antenna protein gives new insights into the functional role of the FMO protein and motivates the need for new theoretical and spectroscopic assignments of spectral features of the FMO protein.