Rojdestvenski I, Ivanov AG, Cottam MG, Borodich A, Huner NPA, Oquist G
Segregation of photosystems in thylakoid membranes as a critical phenomenon
Biophys J: 2002 82:1719-1730
The distribution of the two photosystems, PSI and PSII, in grana and stroma lamellae of the chloroplast membranes is not uniform. PSII are mainly concentrated in grana and PSI in stroma thylakoids. The dynamics and factors controlling the spatial segregation of PSI and PSII are generally not well understood, and here we address the segregation of photosystems in thylakoid membranes by means of a molecular dynamics method. The lateral segregation of photosystems was studied assuming a model comprising a two-dimensional (in-plane), two-component, many-body system with periodic boundary conditions and competing interactions between the photosystems in the thylakoid membrane. PSI and PSII are represented by particles with different values of negative charge. The pair interactions between particles include a screened Coulomb repulsive part and an exponentially decaying attractive part. The modeling results suggest a complicated phase behavior of the system, including quasi-crystalline phase of randomly distributed complexes of PSII and PSI at low ionic screening, well defined clustered state of segregated complexes at high screening, and in addition, an intermediate agglomerate phase where the photosystems tend to aggregate together without segregation. The calculations demonstrated that the ordering of photosystems within the membrane was the result of interplay between electrostatic and lipid-mediated interactions. At some values of the model parameters the segregation can be represented visually as well as by analyzing the correlation functions of the configuration.