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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Aug 27;363(1504):2629-40. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0023.

Phylogenetic and evolutionary relationships of RubisCO and the RubisCO-like proteins and the functional lessons provided by diverse molecular forms.

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Department of Microbiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1292, USA. <>


Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) catalyses the key reaction by which inorganic carbon may be assimilated into organic carbon. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that there are three classes of bona fide RubisCO proteins, forms I, II and III, which all catalyse the same reactions. In addition, there exists another form of RubisCO, form IV, which does not catalyse RuBP carboxylation or oxygenation. Form IV is actually a homologue of RubisCO and is called the RubisCO-like protein (RLP). Both RubisCO and RLP appear to have evolved from an ancestor protein in a methanogenic archaeon, and comprehensive analyses indicate that the different forms (I, II, III and IV) contain various subgroups, with individual sequences derived from representatives of all three kingdoms of life. The diversity of RubisCO molecules, many of which function in distinct milieus, has provided convenient model systems to study the ways in which the active site of this protein has evolved to accommodate necessary molecular adaptations. Such studies have proven useful to help provide a framework for understanding the molecular basis for many important aspects of RubisCO catalysis, including the elucidation of factors or functional groups that impinge on RubisCO carbon dioxide/oxygen substrate discrimination.

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