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- STRUCTURAL COMPARISON OF CARBONIC ANHYDRASE GENE FAMILIES
- NUMBER AND DISTRIBUTION OF GENES
- PHYSIOLOGICAL ROLES OF CARBONIC ANHYDRASES
Carbonic anhydrases catalyse the reversible hydration of CO2, increasing the interconversion between CO2 and HCO3− + H+ in living organisms. The three evolutionarily unrelated families of carbonic anhydrases are designated α-, β-and γ-CA. Animals have only the α-carbonic anhydrase type of carbonic anhydrase, but they contain multiple isoforms of this carbonic anhydrase. In contrast, higher plants, algae and cyanobacteria may contain members of all three CA families. Analysis of the Arabidopsis database reveals at least 14 genes potentially encoding carbonic anhydrases. The database also contains expressed sequence tags (ESTs) with homology to most of these genes. Clearly the number of carbonic anhydrases in plants is much greater than previously thought. Chlamydomonas, a unicellular green alga, is not far behind with five carbonic anhydrases already identified and another in the EST database. In algae, carbonic anhydrases have been found in the mitochondria, the chloroplast thylakoid, the cytoplasm and the periplasmic space. In C3 dicots, only two carbonic anhydrases have been localized, one to the chloroplast stroma and one to the cytoplasm. A challenge for plant scientists is to identify the number, location and physiological roles of the carbonic anhydrases.