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Front Plant Sci. 2014 Jan 30;5:9. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00009. eCollection 2014.

The CP12 protein family: a thioredoxin-mediated metabolic switch?

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex Colchester, UK.
Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter Exeter, UK.


CP12 is a small, redox-sensitive protein, representatives of which are found in most photosynthetic organisms, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, red and green algae, and higher plants. The only clearly defined function for CP12 in any organism is in the thioredoxin-mediated regulation of the Calvin-Benson cycle. CP12 mediates the formation of a complex between glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and phosphoribulokinase (PRK) in response to changes in light intensity. Under low light, the formation of the GAPDH/PRK/CP12 complex results in a reduction in the activity of both PRK and GAPDH and, under high light conditions, thioredoxin mediates the disassociation of the complex resulting in an increase in both GAPDH and PRK activity. Although the role of CP12 in the redox-mediated formation of the GAPDH/PRK/CP12 multiprotein complex has been clearly demonstrated, a number of studies now provide evidence that the CP12 proteins may play a wider role. In Arabidopsis thaliana CP12 is expressed in a range of tissue including roots, flowers, and seeds and antisense suppression of tobacco CP12 disrupts metabolism and impacts on growth and development. Furthermore, in addition to the higher plant genomes which encode up to three forms of CP12, analysis of cyanobacterial genomes has revealed that, not only are there multiple forms of the CP12 protein, but that in these organisms CP12 is also found fused to cystathionine-β-synthase domain containing proteins. In this review we present the latest information on the CP12 protein family and explore the possibility that CP12 proteins form part of a redox-mediated metabolic switch, allowing organisms to respond to rapid changes in the external environment.


cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS)-domains; intrinsically unstructured (disordered) protein; protein–protein interactions; redox; thioredoxin

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