, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 153–160 | Cite as

Degradation of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase by proteolytic enzymes from crude extracts of wheat leaves

  • Mark B. Peoples
  • Michael J. Dalling


In crude extracts from the primary leaf of wheat seedlings, Triticum aestivum L., cv. Olympic, maximum proteinase activity, as determined by measuring the rate of release of amino nitrogen from ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBPCase), was found to be obtained only when EDTA and L-cysteine were included in the extraction buffer. Highest proteinase activity was obtained by grinding at pH 6.8, although the level of activity was similar in the pH range 5.6 to 8.0; this range also coincided with maximum extractability of protein. The lower amount of RuBPCase degrading proteinase extracted at low pH was not due to an effect of pH on enzyme stability. The optimum temperature of reaction was 50° C and reaction rates were linear for at least 120 min at this temperature. In the absence of substrate the proteinase was found to be very sensitive to temperatures above 30° C, with even short exposures causing rapid loss of activity. The relation between assay pH and RuBPCase degradation indicated that degradation was restricted to the acid proteinase group of enzymes, with a pH optimum of 4.8, and no detectable activity at a pH greater than 6.4. The levels of extractable RuBPCase proteinase exhibited a distinct diurnal variation, with activity increasing during the latter part of the light period and then declining once the lights were turned off. The effect of leaf age on the level of RuBPCase, RuBPCase proteinase and total soluble protein was investigated. Maximum RuBPCase activity occurred 9 days after sowing as did soluble protein. After the maximum level was obtained, the pattern of total soluble protein was shown to be characterised by three distinct periods of protein loss: I (day 9–13) 125 ng leaf-1 day-1; II (day 15–27) 11 ng leaf-1 day-1; III (day 29–49) 22 ng leaf-1 day-1. Comparison of the pattern of RuBPCase activity and total protein suggest that the loss of RuBPCase may be largely responsible for the high rate of protein loss during period I. Proteinase activity increased sharply during the period of most rapid loss of RuBPCase activity, and because the specific activity of RuBPCase also declined, we concluded that RuBPCase was being degraded more rapidly than the other proteins. Once the majority of the RuBPCase was lost, there did not appear to be a direct relation between RuBPCase proteinase activity and rate of total soluble protein loss, since the proteinase exhibited maximum activity during the slowest period of protein loss (II), and was declining in activity while the rate of protein loss remained stable during the third and final period of total protein loss.

Key words

Degradation Proteinase Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase Triticum 



ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (EC


trichloroacetic acid


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark B. Peoples
    • 1
  • Michael J. Dalling
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Sciences Section, School of Agriculture and ForestryUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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