Photosystem - Reaction Centers

Reaction Centers

At the heart of a photosystem lies the Reaction Center, which is an enzyme that uses light to reduce molecules. In a photosystem, this Reaction Center is surrounded by light-harvesting complexes that enhance the absorption of light and transfer the energy to the Reaction Centers. Light-Harvesting and Reaction Center complexes are membrane protein complexes that are made of several protein-subunits and contain numerous cofactors. In the photosynthetic membranes, reaction centers provide the driving force for the bioenergetic electron and proton transfer chain. When light is absorbed by a reaction center (either directly or passed by neighbouring pigment-antennae), a series of oxido-reduction reactions is initiated, leading to the reduction of a terminal acceptor. Two families of reaction centers in photosystems exist: type I reaction centers (such as photosystem I (P700) in chloroplasts and in green-sulphur bacteria) and type II reaction centers (such as photosystem II (P680) in chloroplasts and in non-sulphur purple bacteria). Each photosystem can be identified by the wavelength of light to which it is most reactive (700 and 680 nanometers, respectively for PSI and PSII in chloroplasts), the amount and type of light-harvesting complexes present and the type of terminal electron acceptor used. Type I photosystems use ferredoxin-like iron-sulfur cluster proteins as terminal electron acceptors, while type II photosystems ultimately shuttle electrons to a quinone terminal electron acceptor. One has to note that both reaction center types are present in chloroplasts and cyanobacteria, working together to form a unique photosynthetic chain able to extract electrons from water, creating oxygen as a byproduct.

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