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REVIEW: Energetic and Regulatory Role of Proton Potential in Chloroplasts

A. N. Tikhonov

Faculty of Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia; fax: (495) 932-8820; E-mail: an_tikhonov@mail.ru

Received April 8, 2012
The review focuses on the energetic and regulatory role of proton potential in the activity of chloroplasts, the light energy-converting organelles of plant cells. Mechanisms of generation of the transmembrane difference of electrochemical potentials of hydrogen ions (Δµ~H+) in the chloroplast thylakoid membranes are considered. Methods for measuring the intrathylakoid pH in chloroplasts are described. It is shown that under conditions of phosphorylation in chloroplasts, the pH of the intrathylakoid space decreases moderately (pHin ≥ 6.0-6.2, at the stroma pHout ≈ 7.8-8.0), with a corresponding concentration component of Δµ~H+ equal to ΔpH ≤ 1.6-2.0. On analyzing the energy and structural features of ATP synthase of chloroplasts, we conclude that the energy stored as the concentration component of the proton potential ΔpH is sufficient to sustain ATP synthesis. The mechanisms of pH-dependent regulation of electron transport in chloroplasts (photosynthetic control of electron transport, enhancement of non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll excitation in the light-harvesting antenna, light-induced activation of the Calvin–Benson cycle reactions, activation of ATP synthase) are considered briefly.
KEY WORDS: bioenergetics, chloroplasts, proton potential, regulation of photosynthesis

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297912090027