Exchange pathways of plastoquinone and plastoquinol in the photosystem II complex

Van Eerden, F. J., Melo, M. N., Frederix, P. W. J. M., Periole, X. & Marrink, S. J., 10-May-2017, In : Nature Communications. 8, p. 1-8 8 p., 15214.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Plastoquinone (PLQ) acts as an electron carrier between photosystem II (PSII) and the cytochrome b(6)f complex. To understand how PLQ enters and leaves PSII, here we show results of coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations of PSII embedded in the thylakoid membrane, covering a total simulation time of more than 0.5 ms. The long time scale allows the observation of many spontaneous entries of PLQ into PSII, and the unbinding of plastoquinol (PLQol) from the complex. In addition to the two known channels, we observe a third channel for PLQ/PLQol diffusion between the thylakoid membrane and the PLQ binding sites. Our simulations point to a promiscuous diffusion mechanism in which all three channels function as entry and exit channels. The exchange cavity serves as a PLQ reservoir. Our simulations provide a direct view on the exchange of electron carriers, a key step of the photosynthesis machinery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15214
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 10-May-2017


  • platoquinone, plastoquinol, photosystem II complex, thylakoid membrane
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