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Eukaryotic light harvesting proteins (LHCPs) bind pigments and assemble into complexes (LHCs) that channel light energy into photosynthetic reaction centers. The structures of several prokaryotic LHCPs are known and histidines are important for the binding of the associated pigments. It has been difficult to predict how the eukaryotic LHCPs associate with pigments as the structure of the major LHCP of photosystem II is not yet known. While each LHCPII binds approximately 13 chlorophylls the protein contains only three histidines, one in each putative transmembrane helix. Experiments that use isolated pea (Pisum sativum L.) chloroplasts and mutant LHCPII synthesized in vitro show that the substitution of either an alanine or an arginine for each histidine residue inhibits some aspect of LHCII assembly. The histidine of the first membrane helix, but not the second or third, may be involved in the transport across the chloroplast envelope. No histidine alone is essential for the insertion of LHCP into thylakoid membranes, yet arginine substitutions are more inhibitory than those of alanine. The histidine replacements have their most pronounced effect on the assembly of LHCP into LHCII.