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PS3 Report Summary

Project ID: 615217
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Israel

Mid-Term Report Summary - PS3 (An artificial water-soluble photosystem by protein design)

The goal of the PS3 project is to construct a solar energy conversion system that is inspired by the architecture of the natural photosynthetic apparatus, using proteins and natural photosynthetic pigments as building blocks. More specifically, we want to build analogs of photosystems, the fundamental photosynthetic energy conversion units. In contrast to the natural photosystems that are embedded in lipid membranes, our goal is to construct a water-soluble photosystem. Successful designs may be coupled to highly efficient biological catalysts that will enable using light for driving chemical reactions for fuel production.
Constructing water-soluble photosystem analogs requires designing new proteins capable of assembling and organizing photosynthetic pigments, primarily chlorophylls, as well other electrochemically active molecules at well-defined geometries. This is a formidable challenge that we are addressing by developing and implementing computational protein design tools. Another, more specific challenge is the incorporation of water-insoluble natural chlorophylls into water-soluble proteins. This challenge was addressed by developing a novel method of assembly based on water-in-oil emulsions.
Half-way through the project, we have established various methods for designing and constructing new water-soluble protein-pigment analogues. Applying these methods havs complexes as well as valuable insights into the mechanisms by which proteins tune the electronic properties of their embedded pigments to fit their function. These guidelines and insights will be implemented in the construction of new protein building block for the construction of an artificial water-soluble photosystem.

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