Light-induced hypsochromic shifts of the Qy absorption band of the bacteriochlorophyll dimer (P) from 865 to 850 nm were identified using continuous illumination of dark-adapted reaction centers (RCs) from Rhodobacter capsulatus when dispersed in the most commonly used detergent, the zwitterionic lauryl N-dimethylamine-N-oxide. Such a shift is known to be the consequence of the decreased degree of delocalization of P. A 2-fold acceleration of the recovery kinetics of P+ was found in RCs that underwent light-induced structural changes compared to those where the P-band position did not change. The light-induced shift was irreversible except in the presence of a secondary electron donor. Prolonged (15 min) illumination resulted in a shift in the position of the P-band even in neutral or negatively charged detergents. In contrast, RCs reconstituted into liposomes made from lipids with different headgroup charges showed light-induced shifts only if shorter fatty acid chains were used. The light-induced conformational changes caused a prominent decrease of the redox potential of P ranging from 120 to 160 mV depending on the detergent compared to the potential of P in dark-adapted reaction centers. The measured light-induced potential decreases were 55 to 85 mV larger than those reported for reaction centers where the P-band position remained at 865 nm. The influence of structural factors, such as the delocalization of the electron hole on P+, the involvement of Tyr M210, and the hydrophobic mismatch between the thickness of the hydrophobic belt of the detergent micelles or the lipid bilayer and the RC protein, on the spectral features and electron transfer kinetics is discussed.
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