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Changes in thylakoid structure associated with the differentiation of heterocysts in the cyanobacterium, Anabaena cylindrica

Changes in thylakoid structure associated with the differentiation of heterocysts in the cyanobacterium, Anabaena cylindrica

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 546(3): 373-382

ISSN/ISBN: 0006-3002

PMID: 110342

DOI: 10.1016/0005-2728(79)90074-4

The thylakoids of vegetative cells of the filamentous cyanobacterium, Anabaena cylindrica, are capable of oxygen-evolving photosynthesis and contain both Photosystems I and II (PSI and PSII). The heterocysts, cells specialized for nitrogen fixation, do not produce oxygen and lack Photosystem II activity, the major accessory pigments, and perhaps the chlorophyll a associated with PSII. Freeze-fracture replicas of vegetative cells and of heterocysts reveal differences in the structure of the thylakoids. A histogram of particle sizes on the exoplasmic fracture face (E-face, EF) of vegetative cell thylakoids has two major peaks, at 75 and 100 A. The corresponding histogram for heterocyst thylakoids lacks the 100 A size class, but has a very large peak at about 55 A with a shoulder at 75 A. Histograms of protoplasmic fracture face (P-face, PF) particle diameters show single broad peaks, the mean diameter being 71 A for vegetative cells and 64 A for heterocysts. The thylakoids of both cell types have about 5600 particles/micrometers2 on the P-face. On the E-face, the density drops from 939 particles/micrometers2 on vegetative cell thylakoids to 715 particles/micrometers2 on heterocyst thylakoids. The data suggest that the 100 A E-face particle of vegetative cell thylakoids is a PSII complex. The 55 A EF particle of heterocysts may be part of the nitrogenase complex or a remnant of the PSII complex. The role of the 75 A EF particle is unknown. Other functions localized on cyanobacterial thylakoids, such as respiration and hydrogenase activity, must be considered when interpreting the structure of these complex thylakoids.

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Related references

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