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Bersanini, Luca; Allahverdiyeva, Yagut; Battchikova, Natalia; Heinz, Steffen; Lespinasse, Maija; Ruohisto, Essi; Mustila, Henna; Nickelsen, Jörg; Vass, Imre and Aro, Eva-Mari (2017): Dissecting the Photoprotective Mechanism Encoded by the flv4-2 Operon: a Distinct Contribution of Sll0218 in Photosystem II Stabilization. In: Plant Cell and Environment, Vol. 40, No. 3: pp. 378-389

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In Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, the flv4-2 operon encodes the flavodiiron proteins Flv2 and Flv4 together with a small protein, Sll0218, providing photoprotection for Photosystem II (PSII). Here, the distinct roles of Flv2/Flv4 and Sll0218 were addressed, using a number of flv4-2 operon mutants. In the sll0218 mutant, the presence of Flv2/Flv4 rescued PSII functionality as compared with sll0218-flv2, where neither Sll0218 nor the Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer are expressed. Nevertheless, both the sll0218 and sll0218-flv2 mutants demonstrated deficiency in accumulation of PSII proteins suggesting a role for Sll0218 in PSII stabilization, which was further supported by photoinhibition experiments. Moreover, the accumulation of PSII assembly intermediates occurred in Sll0218-lacking mutants. The YFP-tagged Sll0218 protein localized in a few spots per cell at the external side of the thylakoid membrane, and biochemical membrane fractionation revealed clear enrichment of Sll0218 in the PratA-defined membranes, where the early biogenesis steps of PSII occur. Further, the characteristic antenna uncoupling feature of the flv4-2 operon mutants is shown to be related to PSII destabilization in the absence of Sll0218. It is concluded that the Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer supports PSII functionality, while the Sll0218 protein assists PSII assembly and stabilization, including optimization of light harvesting. This work clarifies and dissects the roles of the flv4-2 operon-encoded proteins, Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer and the elusive Sll0218, in photoprotection of the photosynthetic apparatus in Synechosystis. While Flv2/Flv4 heterodimer is involved in an alternative electron transfer route, the Sll0218 protein is localized to specific cell compartments where photosynthetic complexes are assembled, and it is involved in the stabilization of Photosystem II complexes.

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