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Photosynth Res. 2008 Oct-Dec;98(1-3):667-75. doi: 10.1007/s11120-008-9324-z. Epub 2008 Jul 15.

Directing the evolution of Rubisco and Rubisco activase: first impressions of a new tool for photosynthesis research.

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Molecular Plant Physiology, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia.


During the last decade the practice of laboratory-directed protein evolution has become firmly established as a versatile tool in biochemical research by enabling molecular evolution toward desirable phenotypes or detection of novel structure-function interactions. Applications of this technique in the field of photosynthesis research are still in their infancy, but recently first steps have been reported in the directed evolution of the CO(2)-fixing enzyme Rubisco and its helper protein Rubisco activase. Here we summarize directed protein evolution strategies and review the progressive advances that have been made to develop and apply suitable selection systems for screening mutant forms of these enzymes that improve the fitness of the host organism. The goal of increasing photosynthetic efficiency of plants by improving the kinetics of Rubisco has been a long-term goal scoring modest successes. We discuss how directed evolution methodologies may one day be able to circumvent the problems encountered during this venture.

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