Carboxysomes and Their Structural Organization in Prokaryotes

  • Sabine Heinhorst
  • Gordon C. Cannon
  • Jessup M. Shively


Carboxysomes are the archetypical examples of primitive proteinaceous organelles found in bacteria, collectively termed bacterial microcompartments (BMCs). Recent studies using current techniques for imaging and structural elucidation have resulted in a quantum leap of our mechanistic understanding of structure/function relationships in these bacterial inclusions. Bioinformatic analysis of the rapidly growing collection of sequenced bacterial genomes has revealed that BMCs of different types appear to be widely employed by microbes to organize their metabolism in much the same way that eukaryotes use sensu stricto organelles. This review focuses on some recently revealed properties of carboxysomes and points out pressing open questions. Some of these questions have remained unanswered since the discovery of carboxysomes; others have been raised by more recent discoveries.


Shell Protein Synechococcus Elongatus Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus Carbon Concentrate Mechanism Shell Component 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to Drs. Fei Cai, Cheryl Kerfeld, Cristina Iancu, and Grant Jensen for the images they provided and their help with various figures in this review. We truly appreciate the many stimulating discussions we have had throughout the years of our respective collaborations. SH and GCC acknowledge the generous funding of their carboxysome research from the National Science Foundation (current awards: MCB-0851070 and MCB-1244534).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Heinhorst
    • 1
  • Gordon C. Cannon
    • 1
  • Jessup M. Shively
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryThe University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Genetics and BiochemistryClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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