Chlorosomes of the photosynthetic green sulfur bacterium Chlorobium tepidum consist of bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) c aggregates that are surrounded by a lipid-protein monolayer envelope that contains ten different proteins. Chlorosomes also contain a small amount of BChl a, but the organization and location of this BChl a are not yet clearly understood. Chlorosomes were treated with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), Lubrol PX, or Triton X-100, separately or in combination with 1-hexanol, and the extracted components were separated from the residual chlorosomes by ultrafiltration on centrifugal filters. When chlorosomes were treated with low concentrations of SDS, all proteins except CsmA were extracted. However, this treatment did not significantly alter the size and shape of the chlorosomes, did not extract the BChl a, and caused only minor changes in the absorption spectrum of the chlorosomes. Cross-linking studies with SDS-treated chlorosomes revealed the presence of multimers of the major chlorosome protein, CsmA, up to homooctamers. Extraction of chlorosomes with SDS and 1-hexanol solubilized all ten chlorosome envelope proteins as well as BChl a. Although the size and shape of these extracted chlorosomes did not initially differ significantly from untreated chlorosomes, the extracted chlorosomes gradually disintegrated, and rod-shaped BChl c aggregates were sometimes observed. These results strongly suggest that CsmA binds the BChl a in Chlorobium-type chlorosomes and further indicate that none of the nine other chlorosome envelope proteins are absolutely required for maintaining the shape and integrity of chlorosomes. Quantitative estimates suggest that chlorosomes contain approximately equimolar amounts of CsmA and BChl a and that roughly one-third of the surface of the chlorosome is covered by CsmA.
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