Journal Article

Rubiscolytics: fate of Rubisco after its enzymatic function in a cell is terminated

Urs Feller, Iwona Anders and Tadahiko Mae

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 7, pages 1615-1624
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online November 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
Rubiscolytics: fate of Rubisco after its enzymatic function in a cell is terminated

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Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) is the predominant protein in photosynthesizing plant parts and the most abundant protein on earth. Amino acids deriving from its net degradation during senescence are transported to sinks (e.g. developing leaves, fruits). Rubisco catabolism is not controlled only by the overall sink demand. An accumulation of carbohydrates may also accelerate senescence and Rubisco degradation under certain conditions. Amino acids produced by proteolysis are rapidly redistributed in plants with proper source–sink relationships. In leaves of wheat plants with reduced sink capacity (e.g. sink removal, phloem interruption by steam girdling at the leaf base), Rubisco is degraded and free amino acids accumulate. They may be washed out in the rain during late senescence. In leaves of depodded soybeans, Rubisco is degraded and amino acids can be reutilized in these leaves for the synthesis of special vacuolar proteins in the paraveinal mesophyll (vegetative storage proteins). Nitrogen deriving from Rubisco degradation in older (senescing) leaves of annual crops is integrated to some extent again in newly synthesized Rubisco in younger leaves or photosynthesizing tissues of fruits. Finally, a high percentage of this nitrogen is accumulated in protein bodies (storage proteins). At the subcellular level, Rubisco can be degraded in intact chloroplasts. Reactive oxygen species may directly cleave the large subunit or modify it to become more susceptible to proteolysis. A metalloendopeptidase may play an important role in Rubisco degradation within intact chloroplasts. Additionally, the involvement of vacuolar endopeptidase(s) in Rubisco catabolism (at least under certain conditions) was postulated by various laboratories.

Keywords: Chloroplast; endopeptidase; nitrogen remobilization; phloem transport; proteolysis; Rubisco; stress; vacuole

Journal Article.  5872 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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