Ultrafast structural changes within a photosynthetic reaction centre Academic Article uri icon


  • Photosynthetic reaction centres harvest the energy content of sunlight by transporting electrons across an energy-transducing biological membrane. Here we use time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography1 using an X-ray free-electron laser2 to observe light-induced structural changes in the photosynthetic reaction centre of Blastochloris viridis on a timescale of picoseconds. Structural perturbations first occur at the special pair of chlorophyll molecules of the photosynthetic reaction centre that are photo-oxidized by light. Electron transfer to the menaquinone acceptor on the opposite side of the membrane induces a movement of this cofactor together with lower amplitude protein rearrangements. These observations reveal how proteins use conformational dynamics to stabilize the charge-separation steps of electron-transfer reactions.


  • Dods, R
  • Båth, P
  • Morozov, D
  • Gagnér, VA
  • Arnlund, D
  • Luk, HL
  • Kübel, J
  • Maj, M
  • Vallejos, A
  • Wickstrand, C
  • Bosman, R
  • Beyerlein, KR
  • Nelson, G
  • Liang, M
  • Milathianaki, D
  • Robinson, J
  • Harimoorthy, R
  • Berntsen, Peter
  • Malmerberg, E
  • Johansson, L
  • Andersson, R
  • Carbajo, S
  • Claesson, E
  • Conrad, CE
  • Dahl, P
  • Hammarin, G
  • Hunter, MS
  • Li, C
  • Lisova, S
  • Royant, A
  • Safari, C
  • Sharma, A
  • Williams, GJ
  • Yefanov, O
  • Westenhoff, S
  • Davidsson, J
  • DePonte, DP
  • Boutet, S
  • Barty, A
  • Katona, G
  • Groenhof, G
  • Brändén, G
  • Neutze, R

publication date

  • 2020

published in