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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1994 Jul;312(1):210-8.

High substrate specificity factor ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase from eukaryotic marine algae and properties of recombinant cyanobacterial RubiSCO containing "algal" residue modifications.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1192.


Marine algae play an important role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In this investigation, we have determined the substrate specificity factor of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase from several marine chromophytic and rhodophytic algae. The enzymes were purified to homogeneity and all possessed significantly higher substrate specificity factors than the enzymes from terrestrial plants, green algae, or bacteria. There are substantial differences in the sequence in a helix 6 of the large subunit of these enzymes, which is intriguing since residues of this region had been previously shown to influence the ability of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase to discriminate between CO2 and O2, presumably by influencing the adjacent flexible loop 6 region. Sequence divergence at this and other key regions might contribute to the substantial differences in the substrate specificity factor of the chromophyte/rhodophyte enzyme. Initial studies on probing the basis for the high substrate specificity factor employed single amino acid substitutions in the recombinant cyanobacterial ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase. Residues in the vicinity of loop 6 were changed to reflect the corresponding residues in the chromophyte/rhodophyte large subunit. Some changes in the substrate specificity factor were noted, as were alterations in other important kinetic parameters. Since marine algae show little evidence of photorespiratory metabolism, the high substrate specificity of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase is consistent with the physiology of these organisms. The results of this study provide further evidence that the properties of this enzyme may evolve or change according to the environment in which the host organism is found.

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