ISOLATION OF ccmKLMN GENES FROM THE MARINE CYANOBACTERIUM, SYNECHOCOCCUS SP. PCC7002 (CYANOPHYCEAE), AND EVIDENCE THAT CcmM IS ESSENTIAL FOR CARBOXYSOME ASSEMBLY

Authors

  • Martha Ludwig,

    1. Molecular Plant Physiology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University,
      P.O. Box 475, Canberra, ACT 0200 Australia
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    • 2

      Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia.

  • Dieter Sültemeyer,

    1. Molecular Plant Physiology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University,
      P.O. Box 475, Canberra, ACT 0200 Australia
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      Present address: FB Biology, Universität Kaiserslautern, P.O. Box 3049, 67653 Kaiserslautern, Germany.

  • G. Dean Price

    Corresponding author
    1. Molecular Plant Physiology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University,
      P.O. Box 475, Canberra, ACT 0200 Australia
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Author for correspondence: e-mail Price@rsbs.anu.edu.au

Abstract

A high CO2 requiring mutant of the marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus PCC7002 was generated using a random gene-tagging procedure. This mutant demonstrated a reduced photosynthetic affinity for inorganic carbon (Ci) and accumulated high internal levels of Ci that could not be used for photosynthesis. Analysis of the mutant genomic DNA showed that the mutagenesis had disrupted a cluster of genes involved in the cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanism (CCM), the so-called ccm genes. These characteristics are consistent with a cyanobacterial mutant with defects in carboxysome assembly and/or functioning. Further genomic analyses indicated that the genes of the Synechococcus PCC7002 operon, ccmKLMN, are structurally similar to those of two closely related cyanobacteria, Synechococcus PCC7942 and Synechocystis PCC6803. The Synechococcus PCC7002 ccmM gene, which encodes a polypeptide with a predicted size of 70 kDa, was the direct target of the mutagenesis event. The CcmM protein has two distinct regions: an N-terminal region that shows similarity to an archaeon gamma carbonic anhydrase and a C-terminal region that contains repeated domains demonstrating sequence similarity to the small subunit of Rubisco. Physiological analysis of a ccmM-defined mutant showed that these cells were essentially identical to the original mutant; they required high CO2 concentrations for growth, they had a low photosynthetic affinity for Ci, and they internalized Ci to high levels. Moreover, ultrastructural examination showed that both the original and the defined mutants lack carboxysomes. Thus, our results demonstrate that the ccmM gene of Synechococcus PCC7002 encodes a polypeptide that is essential for carboxysome assembly and therefore for proper functioning of the cyanobacterial CCM.

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