Speaker: Prof. Senfang SUI

Time: 4:00-5:30 PM, 10 Jan. , 2024

Venue: Room 111, Lynn Library

Near-Atomic Structural Determination of Photosynthetic Protein Machine: from single particle cryo-EM to cellular cryo-ET

Topic: Professor of biophysics, Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Speaker: Prof. Senfang SUI

Time: 4:00-5:30 PM, 10 Jan. , 2024

Venue: Room 111, Lynn Library


Cryo-EM is entering a new era: in situ + near-atomic resolution. Red algae are a very important group of photosynthetic organisms living in the ocean. Our laboratory has been studying the structure of phycobilisome (PBS), one large light-harvesting protein complex found in red algae, for many years, and now we are expanding our research from the PBS structure in vitro to the structure of the entire photosynthetic protein machine in the native cellular context. Using single particle analysis, we determined the phycobilisome structures of Griffithsia pacifica (G.p) and Porphyridium purpureum (P.p) at resolutions of 3.5 Å and 2.8 Å, respectively. Using the combination of cryo-ET-STA and SPA, we have obtained the structure of PBS-PSII-PSI-LHC megacomplex of P.p at an overall resolution of 3.3 Å. Together, these structures figure out the complete routes of excitation energy transfer in red algae, revealing the distribution mechanism of energy flow from PBS to two photoreaction centers, PSII and PSI. In this talk, I will summarize our recent progress in this very exciting research project.


Dr. Sen-Fang Sui is an outstanding professor of biophysics and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He obtained both his Bachelor’s degree in Precision Instruments and Mechanology in 1970 and his Master’s degree in Solid State Physics in 1981 from Tsinghua University. His doctoral degree in Biophysics was obtained in 1988 from the Technical University of Munich in Germany. Dr. Sui started his own research group as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology—renamed the “School of Life Sciences” in 2009—at Tsinghua University in 1989 and was promoted to the position of Full Professor in 1991. He was further appointed as the dean of the Department of Biological Sciences and Technology of Tsinghua University from 1992 to 1995. Dr. Sui’s research areas include biophysics and structural biology, cryo-electron microscopy, and membrane biology.

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