Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Shoe strings and egg openers: Scientists discover photosynthesis helper protein in red algae

Date:
November 8, 2011
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Photosynthesis is one of the most important biological processes. However, it is less efficient in plants than it could be. Red algae, in contrast, use a slightly different mechanism and are thus more productive. Scientists in Germany have now identified a so far unknown helper protein for photosynthesis in red algae.

The helper protein (blue) pulls on one end of Rubisco (coloured) and frees up the sugar. The blockage is lifted.
Credit: Manajit Hayer-Hartl / Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry

Green plants, algae and plankton metabolize carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into oxygen and sugar in the presence of light. Without this process called photosynthesis, today's life on Earth would not be possible. The key protein of this process, called Rubisco, is thus one of the most important proteins in nature. It bonds with carbon dioxide and starts its conversion into sugar and oxygen.

"Despite its fundamental importance, Rubisco is an enzyme fraught with shortcomings," says Manajit Hayer-Hartl, head of the Research Group "Chaperonin-assisted Protein Folding" at the MPIB.

One of the problems is that Rubisco binds to the wrong sugar molecules that inhibit its activity. The inhibitors have to be removed by a special helper protein, called Rubisco activase. The Max Planck scientists discovered that during evolution two different Rubisco activases developed in plants and in red algae. They differ in structure and in their working mechanism.

Two ways of restoring activity

The newly discovered Rubisco activase in red algae repairs useless Rubisco proteins by pulling on one end of the protein, like someone who opens a shoe string. In doing so, the helper protein opens the active centre of Rubisco and releases the inhibitory sugar. The respective Rubisco activase in green plants works more like an egg opener, squeezing the inactive Rubisco protein and forcing it to let go of the sugar molecules.

"Understanding the structure and function of the two activase helper proteins should facilitate efforts in biotechnology to generate plants and microorganisms that are able to convert more CO2 into valuable biomass than nature does," hopes Manajit Hayer-Hartl.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Oliver Mueller-Cajar, Mathias Stotz, Petra Wendler, F. Ulrich Hartl, Andreas Bracher, Manajit Hayer-Hartl. Structure and function of the AAA+ protein CbbX, a red-type Rubisco activase. Nature, 2011; 479 (7372): 194 DOI: 10.1038/nature10568
  2. Mathias Stotz, Oliver Mueller-Cajar, Susanne Ciniawsky, Petra Wendler, F Ulrich Hartl, Andreas Bracher, Manajit Hayer-Hartl. Structure of green-type Rubisco activase from tobacco. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2171

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Shoe strings and egg openers: Scientists discover photosynthesis helper protein in red algae." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108104620.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2011, November 8). Shoe strings and egg openers: Scientists discover photosynthesis helper protein in red algae. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108104620.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Shoe strings and egg openers: Scientists discover photosynthesis helper protein in red algae." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108104620.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins