The Q(y) absorption spectrum of the light-harvesting complex II as determined by structure-based analysis of chlorophyll macrocycle deformations.
The absorption spectrum of the main antenna complex of photosystem II, LHCII, has been modeled using, as starting points, the chlorophyll (chl) atomic coordinates as obtained by the LHCII crystal analysis [Liu, Z., Yan, H., Wang, K., Kuang, T., Zhang, J., Gui, L., An, X., and Chang, W. (2004) Nature 428, 287-292] of three different trimers. The chl site Q(y) transition energies have been obtained in terms of the chl macrocycle deformations influencing the energy level of the chl frontier orbitals. Using these chl site transition energy values and the entire set of interaction energies, calculated in the ideal dipole approximation, the complete Hamiltonians for the three LHCII trimers have been written and the full set of 42 eigenstates of each LHCII trimer have been calculated. With the 42 transition energies and transition dipole strengths, either unperturbed or associated to the eigenstates, the LHCII Q(y) absorption spectrum has been calculated using a chl absorption band shape. These calculations have been performed both in vacuo and in the presence of a medium. Despite the number of approximations, a good correlation with the measured absorption spectrum of a LHCII preparation is obtained. This analysis shows that, although a substantial C3 symmetry of the LHCII trimer in terms of both chl-chl distances and interaction energies is present, a marked variation among monomer subsets of site transition energies is estimated. This leads to a C3 symmetry breaking in the unperturbed chl site transition energies set and, consequently, in the trimer eigenstates. It is also concluded that interactions among chlorophylls do not significantly modify the light absorption role of LHCII in plant leaves.