Two mutant alleles of ACCLIMATION OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS to the ENVIRONMENT 1 (ape1) have been characterized in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The ape1 mutants are photosensitive and show PSII photoinhibition.
Photosynthetic organisms require acclimation mechanisms to regulate photosynthesis in response to light conditions. Here, two mutant alleles of ACCLIMATION OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS TO THE ENVIRONMENT 1 (ape1) have been characterized in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The ape1 mutants are photosensitive and show PSII photoinhibition during high light acclimation or under high light stress. The ape1 mutants retain more PSII super-complexes and have changes to thylakoid stacking relative to control strains during photosynthetic growth at different light intensities. The APE1 protein is found in all oxygenic phototrophs and encodes a 25 kDa thylakoid protein that interacts with the Photosystem II core complex as monomers, dimers and supercomplexes. We propose a model where APE1 bound to PSII supercomplexes releases core complexes and promotes PSII heterogeneity influencing the stacking of Chlamydomonas thylakoids. APE1 is a regulator in light acclimation and its function is to reduce over-excitation of PSII centres and avoid PSII photoinhibition to increase the resilience of photosynthesis to high light.