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Trends Plant Sci. 2012 Sep;17(9):503-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 May 31.

Unusual cyanobacterial TCA cycles: not broken just different.

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Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Potsdam-Golm, Germany.


As a fundamental energy-conserving process common to all living organisms, respiration is responsible for the oxidation of respiratory substrates to drive ATP synthesis. Accordingly, it has long been accepted that a complete tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is necessary for respiratory energy production. Cyanobacteria, similar to some other prokaryotes, appeared to have an incomplete TCA cycle because they lack the enzyme 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (OGDH). However, it has recently been reported that the cycle can be completed by the action of two alternative enzymes. In this opinion article, we discuss the progress being made to elucidate the nature of the TCA cycles in cyanobacteria and plants and outline open questions concerning the functional significance of this unusual metabolic feature in a broader evolutionary context.

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