Microbial ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase: A different perspective

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Marine and terrestrial photosynthetic and chemoautotrophic microorganisms assimilate considerable amounts of carbon dioxide. Like green plastids, the predominant means by which this process occurs is via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham reductive pentose phosphate pathway, where ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) plays a paramount role. Recent findings indicate that this enzyme is subject to diverse means of control, including specific and elaborate means to guarantee its high rate and extent of synthesis. In addition, powerful and specific means to regulate Rubisco activity is a characteristic feature of many microbial systems. In many respects, the diverse properties of microbial Rubisco enzymes suggest interesting strategies to elucidate the molecular basis of CO2/O2 specificity, the ’holy grail‘ of Rubisco biochemistry. These systems thus provide, as the title suggests, ’different perspectives‘ to this fundamental problem. These include vast possibilities for imaginative biological selection using metabolically versatile organisms with well-defined genetic transfer capabilities to solve important issues of Rubisco specificity and molecular control. This review considers the major issues of Rubisco biochemistry and regulation in photosynthetic microoganisms including proteobacteria, cyanobacteria, marine nongreen algae, as well as other interesting prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial systems recently shown to possess this enzyme.

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