Towards engineering a hybrid carboxysome

Nghiem Dinh Nguyen, Sacha B. Pulsford, Wei Yi Hee, Benjamin D. Rae, Loraine M. Rourke, G. Dean Price*, Benedict M. Long

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Carboxysomes are bacterial microcompartments, whose structural features enable the encapsulated Rubisco holoenzyme to operate in a high-CO2 environment. Consequently, Rubiscos housed within these compartments possess higher catalytic turnover rates relative to their plant counterparts. This particular enzymatic property has made the carboxysome, along with associated transporters, an attractive prospect to incorporate into plant chloroplasts to increase future crop yields. To date, two carboxysome types have been characterized, the α-type that has fewer shell components and the β-type that houses a faster Rubisco. While research is underway to construct a native carboxysome in planta, work investigating the internal arrangement of carboxysomes has identified conserved Rubisco amino acid residues between the two carboxysome types which could be engineered to produce a new, hybrid carboxysome. In theory, this hybrid carboxysome would benefit from the simpler α-carboxysome shell architecture while simultaneously exploiting the higher Rubisco turnover rates in β-carboxysomes. Here, we demonstrate in an Escherichia coli expression system, that the Thermosynechococcus elongatus Form IB Rubisco can be imperfectly incorporated into simplified Cyanobium α-carboxysome-like structures. While encapsulation of non-native cargo can be achieved, T. elongatus Form IB Rubisco does not interact with the Cyanobium carbonic anhydrase, a core requirement for proper carboxysome functionality. Together, these results suggest a way forward to hybrid carboxysome formation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)265-277
    Number of pages13
    JournalPhotosynthesis Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - May 2023


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