Arrangement of photosystem II and ATP synthase in chloroplast membranes of spinach and pea

Bertram Daum, Daniela Nicastro, Jotham Austin, J. Richard McIntosh, Werner Kühlbrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

159 Scopus citations


We used cryoelectron tomography to reveal the arrangements of photosystem II (PSII) and ATP synthase in vitreous sections of intact chloroplasts and plunge-frozen suspensions of isolated thylakoid membranes. We found that stroma and grana thylakoids are connected at the grana margins by staggered lamellar membrane protrusions. The stacking repeat of grana membranes in frozen-hydrated chloroplasts is 15.7 nm, with a 4.5-nm lumenal space and a 3.2-nm distance between the flat stromal surfaces. The chloroplast ATP synthase is confined to minimally curved regions at the grana end membranes and stroma lamellae, where it covers 20% of the surface area. In total, 85% of the ATP synthases are monomers and the remainder form random assemblies of two or more copies. Supercomplexes of PSII and light-harvesting complex II (LHCII) occasionally form ordered arrays in appressed grana thylakoids, whereas this order is lost in destacked membranes. In the ordered arrays, each membrane on either side of the stromal gap contains a two-dimensional crystal of super-complexes, with the two lattices arranged such that PSII cores, LHCII trimers, and minor LHCs each face a complex of the same kind in the opposite membrane. Grana formation is likely to result from electrostatic interactions between these complexes across the stromal gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1312
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Arrangement of photosystem II and ATP synthase in chloroplast membranes of spinach and pea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this