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Title: Carboxysome Mispositioning Alters Growth, Morphology, and Rubisco Level of the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942
ABSTRACT Cyanobacteria are the prokaryotic group of phytoplankton responsible for a significant fraction of global CO 2 fixation. Like plants, cyanobacteria use the enzyme ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxidase (Rubisco) to fix CO 2 into organic carbon molecules via the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle. Unlike plants, cyanobacteria evolved a carbon-concentrating organelle called the carboxysome—a proteinaceous compartment that encapsulates and concentrates Rubisco along with its CO 2 substrate. In the rod-shaped cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, we recently identified the McdAB system responsible for uniformly distributing carboxysomes along the cell length. It remains unknown what role carboxysome positioning plays with respect to cellular physiology. Here, we show that a failure to distribute carboxysomes leads to slower cell growth, cell elongation, asymmetric cell division, and elevated levels of cellular Rubisco. Unexpectedly, we also report that even wild-type S. elongatus undergoes cell elongation and asymmetric cell division when grown at the cool, but environmentally relevant, growth temperature of 20°C or when switched from a high- to ambient-CO 2 environment. The findings suggest that carboxysome positioning by the McdAB system functions to maintain the carbon fixation efficiency of Rubisco by preventing carboxysome aggregation, which is particularly important under growth conditions where rod-shaped cyanobacteria adopt a filamentous morphology. IMPORTANCE Photosynthetic cyanobacteria are responsible for almost half of global CO 2 fixation. Due to eutrophication, rising temperatures, and increasing atmospheric CO 2 concentrations, cyanobacteria have gained notoriety for their ability to form massive blooms in both freshwater and marine ecosystems across the globe. Like plants, cyanobacteria use the most abundant enzyme on Earth, Rubisco, to provide the sole source of organic carbon required for its photosynthetic growth. Unlike plants, cyanobacteria have evolved a carbon-concentrating organelle called the carboxysome that encapsulates and concentrates Rubisco with its CO 2 substrate to significantly increase carbon fixation efficiency and cell growth. We recently identified the positioning system that distributes carboxysomes in cyanobacteria. However, the physiological consequence of carboxysome mispositioning in the absence of this distribution system remains unknown. Here, we find that carboxysome mispositioning triggers changes in cell growth and morphology as well as elevated levels of cellular Rubisco.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1941966 1817478
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Komeili, Arash
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Plain language summary

    Cyanobacteria are well known to fix atmospheric CO2into sugars using the enzyme Rubisco. Less appreciated are the carbon‐fixing abilities of proteobacteria with diverse metabolisms. Bacterial Rubisco is housed within organelles called carboxysomes that increase enzymatic efficiency. Here we show that proteobacterial carboxysomes are distributed in the cell by two proteins, McdA and McdB. McdA on the nucleoid interacts with McdB on carboxysomes to equidistantly space carboxysomes from one another, ensuring metabolic homeostasis and a proper inheritance of carboxysomes following cell division. This study illuminates how widespread carboxysome positioning systems are among diverse bacteria. Carboxysomes significantly contribute to global carbon fixation; therefore, understanding the spatial organization mechanism shared across the bacterial world is of great interest.

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  2. Across bacteria, protein-based organelles called bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) encapsulate key enzymes to regulate their activities. The model BMC is the carboxysome that encapsulates enzymes for CO2fixation to increase efficiency and is found in many autotrophic bacteria, such as cyanobacteria. Despite their importance in the global carbon cycle, little is known about how carboxysomes are spatially regulated. We recently identified the two-factor system required for the maintenance of carboxysome distribution (McdAB). McdA drives the equal spacing of carboxysomes via interactions with McdB, which associates with carboxysomes. McdA is a ParA/MinD ATPase, a protein family well studied in positioning diverse cellular structures in bacteria. However, the adaptor proteins like McdB that connect these ATPases to their cargos are extremely diverse. In fact, McdB represents a completely unstudied class of proteins. Despite the diversity, many adaptor proteins undergo phase separation, but functional roles remain unclear. Here, we define the domain architecture of McdB from the model cyanobacteriumSynechococcus elongatusPCC 7942, and dissect its mode of biomolecular condensate formation. We identify an N-terminal intrinsically disordered region (IDR) that modulates condensate solubility, a central coiled-coil dimerizing domain that drives condensate formation, and a C-terminal domain that trimerizes McdB dimers and provides increased valency for condensate formation. We then identify critical basic residues in the IDR, which we mutate to glutamines to solubilize condensates. Finally, we find that a condensate-defective mutant of McdB has altered association with carboxysomes and influences carboxysome enzyme content. The results have broad implications for understanding spatial organization of BMCs and the molecular grammar of protein condensates.

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  3. Abstract Carboxysomes are protein-based organelles that are essential for allowing cyanobacteria to fix CO2. Previously, we identified a two-component system, McdAB, responsible for equidistantly positioning carboxysomes in the model cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (MacCready JS, Hakim P, Young EJ, Hu L, Liu J, Osteryoung KW, Vecchiarelli AG, Ducat DC. 2018. Protein gradients on the nucleoid position the carbon-fixing organelles of cyanobacteria. eLife 7:pii:e39723). McdA, a ParA-type ATPase, nonspecifically binds the nucleoid in the presence of ATP. McdB, a novel factor that directly binds carboxysomes, displaces McdA from the nucleoid. Removal of McdA from the nucleoid in the vicinity of carboxysomes by McdB causes a global break in McdA symmetry, and carboxysome motion occurs via a Brownian-ratchet-based mechanism toward the highest concentration of McdA. Despite the importance for cyanobacteria to properly position their carboxysomes, whether the McdAB system is widespread among cyanobacteria remains an open question. Here, we show that the McdAB system is widespread among β-cyanobacteria, often clustering with carboxysome-related components, and is absent in α-cyanobacteria. Moreover, we show that two distinct McdAB systems exist in β-cyanobacteria, with Type 2 systems being the most ancestral and abundant, and Type 1 systems, like that of S. elongatus, possibly being acquired more recently. Lastly, all McdB proteins share the sequence signatures of a protein capable of undergoing liquid–liquid phase separation. Indeed, we find that representatives of both McdB types undergo liquid–liquid phase separation in vitro, the first example of a ParA-type ATPase partner protein to exhibit this behavior. Our results have broader implications for understanding carboxysome evolution, biogenesis, homeostasis, and positioning in cyanobacteria. 
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  5. Summary

    Photosynthesis in C3 plants is limited by features of the carbon‐fixing enzyme Rubisco, which exhibits a low turnover rate and can react with O2instead ofCO2, leading to photorespiration. In cyanobacteria, bacterial microcompartments, known as carboxysomes, improve the efficiency of photosynthesis by concentratingCO2near the enzyme Rubisco. Cyanobacterial Rubisco enzymes are faster than those of C3 plants, though they have lower specificity towardCO2than the land plant enzyme. Replacement of land plant Rubisco by faster bacterial variants with lowerCO2specificity will improve photosynthesis only if a microcompartment capable of concentratingCO2can also be installed into the chloroplast. We review current information about cyanobacterial microcompartments and carbon‐concentrating mechanisms, plant transformation strategies, replacement of Rubisco in a model C3 plant with cyanobacterial Rubisco and progress toward synthesizing a carboxysome in chloroplasts.

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