Dependence of the hydration status of bacterial light-harvesting complex 2 on polyol cosolvents
Low molecular weight (MW) polyols are organic osmolytes influencing protein structure and activity. We have intended to investigate the effects of low MW polyols on the optical and the excited-state properties of the light-harvesting complex 2 (LH2) isolated from the photosynthetic bacterium Thermochromatium (Tch.) tepidum, a thermophile growing at ∼50 °C. Steady state spectroscopy demonstrated that, on increasing glycerol or sorbitol fractions up to 60% (polyol/water, v/v), the visible absorption of carotenoids (Crts) remained unchanged, while the near infrared Qy absorption of bacteriochlorophyll a (BChl) at 800 nm (B800) and 850 nm (B850) varied slightly. Further increasing the fraction of glycerol (but not sorbitol) to 80% (v/v) induced distinct changes of the near infrared absorption and fluorescence spectra. Transient absorption spectroscopy revealed that, following the fast processes of BChl-to-Crt triplet energy transfer, rather weak Qy signals of B800 and B850 remained and evolved in phase with the kinetics of triplet excited state Crt (3Crt*), which are attributed to the Qy band shift as a result of 3Crt*–BChl interaction. The steady state and the transient spectral responses of the Qy bands are found to correlate intimately with the water activity varying against polyol MW and mixing ratio, which are rationalized by the change of the hydration status of the C- and N-termini of LH2. Our results suggest that, with reference to the mesophilic purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.1, Tch. tepidum adopts substantially more robust LH2 hydration against the osmotic effects from the low MW polyols.