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Title: Modelling the pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanism provides insights into its operating principles and a roadmap for its engineering into crops

Many eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms enhance their carbon uptake by supplying concentrated CO2to the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco in an organelle called the pyrenoid. Ongoing efforts seek to engineer this pyrenoid-based CO2-concentrating mechanism (PCCM) into crops to increase yields. Here we develop a computational model for a PCCM on the basis of the postulated mechanism in the green algaChlamydomonas reinhardtii. Our model recapitulates allChlamydomonasPCCM-deficient mutant phenotypes and yields general biophysical principles underlying the PCCM. We show that an effective and energetically efficient PCCM requires a physical barrier to reduce pyrenoid CO2leakage, as well as proper enzyme localization to reduce futile cycling between CO2and HCO3. Importantly, our model demonstrates the feasibility of a purely passive CO2uptake strategy at air-level CO2, while active HCO3uptake proves advantageous at lower CO2levels. We propose a four-step engineering path to increase the rate of CO2fixation in the plant chloroplast up to threefold at a theoretical cost of only 1.3 ATP per CO2fixed, thereby offering a framework to guide the engineering of a PCCM into land plants.

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Journal Name:
Nature Plants
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p. 583-595
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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