Borodich A, Rojdestvenski I, Cottam M
Lateral heterogeneity of photosystems in thylakoid membranes studied by Brownian dynamics simulations
Biophys J: 2003 85:774-789
The aggregation and segregation of photosystems in higher plant thylakoid membranes as stromal cation-induced phenomena are studied by the Brownian dynamics method. A theoretical model of photosystems lateral movement within the membrane plane is developed, assuming their pairwise effective potential interaction in aqueous and lipid media and their diffusion. Along with the screened electrostatic repulsive interaction the model accounts for the van der Waals-type, elastic, and lipid-induced attractive forces between photosystems of different sizes and charges. Simulations with a priori estimated parameters demonstrate that all three studied repulsion-attraction alternatives might favor the local segregation of photosystems under physiologically reasonable conditions. However, only the lipid-induced potential combined with the size-corrected screened Coulomb interaction provides the segregated configurations with photosystems II localized in the central part of the grana-size simulation cell and photosystems I occupying its margins, as observed experimentally. Mapping of thermodynamic states reveals that the coexistence curves between isotropic and aggregated phases are the sigmoidlike functions regardless of the effective potential type. It correlates with measurements of the chlorophyll content of thylakoid fragments. Also the universality of the phase curves characterizes the aggregation and segregation of photosystems as order-disorder phase transitions with the Debye radius as a governing parameter.