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Biochemists Identify Key Similarity in the Way Water Oxidation Occurs in Plants and Bacteria

The structure of the O2-evolving complex (OEC) is shown here, depicting the hydrogen bonding network in cyanobacteria.

Researchers at Yale and the University of California-Riverside recently identified a key similarity in the way water oxidation occurs in green plants and bacteria during photosynthesis.

The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry included Yale’s Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry Gary Brudvig and graduate students Gourab Banerjee and Ipsita Ghosh.

The team explained the one significant difference in the
Amino acids are a set of organic compounds used to build proteins. There are about 500 naturally occurring known amino acids, though only 20 appear in the genetic code. Proteins consist of one or more chains of amino acids called polypeptides. The sequence of the amino acid chain causes the polypeptide to fold into a shape that is biologically active. The amino acid sequences of proteins are encoded in the genes. Nine proteinogenic amino acids are called "essential" for humans because they cannot be produced from other compounds by the human body and so must be taken in as food.
" class="glossaryLink ">amino acids surrounding the active site for water oxidation between cyanobacteria and green plants such as spinach. The high conservation occurs despite the fact that, in evolutionary terms, green plants and cyanobacteria diverged roughly one billion years ago.

Brudvig chairs the Department of Chemistry and is director of the Yale Energy Sciences Institute.

Publication: Gourab Banerjee, et al., “Substitution of the D1-Asn87 site in photosystem II of cyanobacteria mimics the chloride-binding characteristics of spinach photosystem II,” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018; doi: 10.1074/jbc.M117.813170

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