In bright light the photosynthetic reaction center (RC) of Rhodobacter sphaeroides stabilizes the P(+)(870).Q(-)(A) charge-separated state and thereby minimizes the potentially harmful effects of light saturation. Using X-ray diffraction we report a conformational change that occurs within the cytoplasmic domain of this RC in response to prolonged illumination with bright light. Our observations suggest a novel structural mechanism for the regulation of electron transfer reactions in photosynthesis.
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