Phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) carboxylase (PEPC) catalyses the irreversible carboxylation of PEP with bicarbonate to produce oxaloacetate. This reaction powers the carbon-concentrating mechanism (CCM) in plants that perform C4 photosynthesis. This CCM is generally driven by a single PEPC gene product that is highly expressed in the cytosol of mesophyll cells. We found two C4 grasses, Panicum miliaceum and Echinochloa colona, that each have two highly expressed PEPC genes. We characterized the kinetic properties of the two most abundant PEPCs in E. colona and P. miliaceum to better understand how the enzyme’s amino acid structure influences its function.
Coding sequences of the two most abundant PEPC proteins in E. colona and P. miliaceum were synthesized by GenScript and were inserted into bacteria expression plasmids. Point mutations resulting in substitutions at conserved amino acid residues (e.g. N-terminal serine and residue 890) were created via site-directed PCR mutagenesis. The kinetic properties of semi-purified plant PEPCs from Escherichia coli were analysed using membrane-inlet mass spectrometry and a spectrophotometric enzyme-coupled reaction.
The two most abundant P. miliaceum PEPCs (PmPPC1 and PmPPC2) have similar sequence identities (>95 %), and as a result had similar kinetic properties. The two most abundant E. colona PEPCsmore »
The two, significantly expressed C4Ppc genes in P. miliaceum were probably the result of genomes combining from two closely related C4 Panicum species. We found natural variation in PEPC’s sensitivity to allosteric inhibition that seems to bypass the conserved 890 residue, suggesting alternative evolutionary pathways for increased malate tolerance and other kinetic properties.