Role of Small Subunit in Mediating Assembly of Red-type Form 1 Rubisco [Protein Structure and Folding]

November 4th, 2014 by Joshi, J., Mueller-Cajar, O., Tsai, Y.-C. C., Hartl, F. U., Hayer-Hartl, M.

Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) is the key enzyme involved in photosynthetic carbon fixation, converting atmospheric CO2 to organic compounds. Form I Rubisco is a cylindrical complex composed of eight large (RbcL) subunits that are capped by four small subunits (RbcS) at the top and four at the bottom. Form I Rubiscos are phylogenetically divided into green- and red-type. Some red-type enzymes have catalytically superior properties. Thus, understanding their folding and assembly is of considerable biotechnological interest. Folding of the green-type RbcL subunits in cyanobacteria is mediated by the GroEL/ES chaperonin system, and assembly to holoenzyme requires specialized chaperones such as RbcX and RAF1. Here, we show that the red-type RbcL subunits in the proteobacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides also fold with GroEL/ES. However, assembly proceeds in a chaperone independent manner. We find that the C-terminal β-hairpin extension of red-type RbcS which is absent in green-type RbcS, is critical for efficient assembly. The β-hairpins of four RbcS subunits form a 8-stranded β-barrel that protrudes into the central solvent channel of the RbcL core complex. The two β-barrels stabilize the complex through multiple interactions with the RbcL subunits. A chimeric green-type RbcS carrying the C-terminal β-hairpin renders the assembly of a cyanobacterial Rubisco independent of RbcX. Our results may facilitate the engineering of crop plants with improved growth properties expressing red-type Rubisco.