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Plant Sci. 2015 Jun;235:70-80. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2015.03.004. Epub 2015 Mar 11.

An assessment of the capacity for phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase to contribute to C4 photosynthesis.

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Laboratory of Anatomy and Morphology, V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Popov Street 2, 197376 St. Petersburg, Russia.
School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4236, USA. Electronic address:


Three C4 acid decarboxylases, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK), NADP-malic enzyme (NADP-ME), and NAD-malic enzyme (NAD-ME) were recruited from C3 plants to support C4 photosynthesis. In Poaceae, there are established lineages having PEPCK type species, and some NADP-ME lineages in which PEPCK contributes to C4. Besides family Poaceae, recently PEPCK has been reported to function in C4 photosynthesis in eudicot species including Cleome gynandra (Cleomaceae), Trianthema portulacastrum and Zaleya pentandra (Aizoaceae). We evaluated PEPCK by enzyme assay and western blots in representatives of Poaceae, Aizoaceae, Cleomaceae, and Chenopodiaceae compared to that in the PEPCK type C4 grass Spartina anglica. Eragrostis nutans was identified as the first NAD-ME type C4 grass having substantial amounts of PEPCK. In the eudicots, including C. gynandra, Cleome angustifolia, T. portulacastrum, Z. pentandra, and nine C4 members of family Chenopodiaceae (which has the most C4 species and diversity in forms among eudicot families), amounts of PEPCK were generally very low (barely detectable up to 4% of that in S. anglica). Based on these results, C4 species can be classified biochemically according to the dominant decarboxylase recruited for C4 function; and, Poaceae remains the only family in which PEPCK is known to have a significant role in C4 photosynthesis.


C(4) eudicots; C(4) grasses; C(4) photosynthesis; NAD-ME type; NADP-ME type; PEPCK type

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