Molecular Aspects of Photosynthesis
Our work focuses on studies that probe the structure/function of the chlorophyll-binding protein CP43, a component of the Photosystem II (PSII) complex. PSII catalyzes the initial events of photosynthesis, i.e., splitting of water with concomitant release of molecular oxygen to the atmosphere. Water splitting by PSII is virtually the only source of molecular oxygen on the planet. CP43 is intimately associated with the catalytic site for water splitting, a tetramanganese-calcium cluster. This association is being studied in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803 using a combination of biochemical, molecular genetic (mutagenesis) and spectroscopic (UV/Vis and fluorescence) techniques. The ultimate goal is to understand the exact role of CP43 in the water splitting mechanism.