Photosynthetic biomass production rapidly declines in mesophilic cyanobacteria grown above their physiological temperatures largely due to the imbalance between degradation and repair of the D1 protein subunit of the heat susceptible Photosystem II reaction centers (PSIIRC). Here we show that simultaneous replacement of two conserved residues in the D1 protein of the mesophilic Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, by the analogue residues present in the thermophilic Thermosynechococcus elongatus, enables photosynthetic growth, extensive biomass production and markedly enhanced stability and repair rate of PSIIRC for seven days even at 43 °C but only at elevated CO(2) (1%). Under the same conditions, the Synechocystis control strain initially presented very slow growth followed by a decline after 3 days. Change in the thylakoid membrane lipids, namely the saturation of the fatty acids is observed upon incubation for the different strains, but only the double mutant shows a concomitant major change of the enthalpy and entropy for the light activated Q(A)(-)→Q(B) electron transfer, rendering them similar to those of the thermophilic strain. Following these findings, computational chemistry and protein dynamics simulations we propose that the D1 double mutation increases the folding stability of the PSIIRC at elevated temperatures. This, together with the decreased impairment of D1 protein repair under increased CO(2) concentrations result in the observed photothermal tolerance of the photosynthetic machinery in the double mutant.
Dinamarca, J., Shlyk-Kerner, O., Kaftan, D., Goldberg, E., Dulebo, A., Gidekel, M., … Scherz, A. (2011). Double mutation in photosystem II reaction centers and elevated CO 2 grant thermotolerance to mesophilic cyanobacterium. PLoS ONE, 6(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028389