Coloured carotenoids play some undefined role in the assembly of a functional light-harvesting 2 (LH2) complex in photosynthetic bacteria. We have used a series of transposon Tn5 insertion mutants disrupted at various stages of the carotenoid-biosynthetic pathway, together with an LH2 deletion/insertion mutant, to investigate this effect in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Mutants were initially characterized by low-temperature absorbance spectroscopy and ultrastructural analysis: Northern-blot analysis demonstrated normal pucBA transcripts for LH2 polypeptides in all the carotenoid mutants. Analysis of translation of the puc transcript and investigation of the fate of any resulting LH2 polypeptides by SDS/PAGE, Western-blot and pulse-chase experiments clearly demonstrated that, in the absence of coloured carotenoids, the LH2 alpha- and beta-polypeptides are synthesized but are rapidly turned over and do not become stably integrated into the membrane. Complementation of mutants with lesions in the crtB and crtI genes, encoding phytoene synthase and phytoene desaturase respectively, with the cloned R. sphaeroides crtI gene, resulted in restoration of carotenoid biosynthesis and stable assembly of the LH2 complex in the crtI mutant but not in the crtB mutant, despite the presence of the CrtI protein.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London