Reversible uncoupling of photophosphorylation by a new bifunctional maleimide.

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A new bifunctional maleimide that contains a disulfide bond has been synthesized. This maleimide, dithiobis-N-ethylmaleimide (DTEM), like another bifunctional maleimide, o-phenylenebismaleimide, is about 500-fold more effective as an inhibitor of photophosphorylation than N-ethylmaleimide. Thylakoids must be illuminated in the presence of DTEM before the assay of phosphorylation for the inhibition to occur. Phosphoryalation in thylakoids treated with DTEM in the light is uncoupled and proton permeability of the treated thylakoids is enhanced. This uncoupling of photophosphorylation in thylakoids treated with DTEM can be reversed by thiol compounds. The addition of 50 mM dithiothreitol restores H+ uptake in thylakoids treated with DTEM in the light to control levels and partially reverses the inhibition of phosphorylation. Evidence is provided to show that DTEM cross-links groups within the gamma subunit of the coupling factor 1, and that the cross-link is broken by high concentrations of thiols. These results suggest that cross-linking is the cause for the increased proton permeability in thylakoids treated with bifunctional maleimides in the light.

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Journal of Biological Chemistry

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