, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 193-207

Gamma carbonic anhydrases in plant mitochondria

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Three genes from Arabidopsis thaliana with high sequence similarity to gamma carbonic anhydrase (γCA), a Zn containing enzyme from Methanosarcina thermophila(CAM), were identified and characterized. Evolutionary and structural analyses predict that these genes code for active forms of γCA. Phylogenetic analyses reveal that these Arabidopsis gene products cluster together with CAM and related sequences from α and γ proteobacteria, organisms proposed as the mitochondrial endosymbiont ancestor. Indeed, in vitro and in vivo experiments indicate that these gene products are transported into the mitochondria as occurs with several mitochondrial protein genes transferred, during evolution, from the endosymbiotic bacteria to the host genome. Moreover, putative CAM orthologous genes are detected in other plants and green algae and were predicted to be imported to mitochondria. Structural modeling and sequence analysis performed in more than a hundred homologous sequences show a high conservation of functionally important active site residues. Thus, the three histidine residues involved in Zn coordination (His 81, 117 and 122), Arg 59, Asp 61, Gin 75, and Asp 76 of CAM are conserved and properly arranged in the active site cavity of the models. Two other functionally important residues (Glu 62 and Glu 84 of CAM) are lacking, but alternative amino acids that might serve to their roles are postulated. Accordingly, we propose that photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms (green algae and plants) contain γCAs and that these enzymes codified by nuclear genes are imported into mitochondria to accomplish their biological function.