The remarkable diversity of plant PEPC (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase): recent insights into the physiological functions and post-translational controls of non-photosynthetic PEPCs

Brendan O'Leary, Joonho Park, William C. Plaxton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

169 Citations (Scopus)


PEPC [PEP (phosphoenolpyruvate) carboxylase] is a tightly controlled enzyme located at the core of plant C-metabolism that catalyses the irreversible beta-carboxylation of PEP to form oxaloacetate and P-i. The critical role of PEPC in assimilating atmospheric CO2 during C-4 and Crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis has been studied extensively. PEPC also fulfils a broad spectrum of non-photosynthetic functions, particularly the anaplerotic replenishment of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates consumed during biosynthesis and nitrogen assimilation. An impressive array of strategies has evolved to co-ordinate in vivo PEPC activity with cellular demands for C-4-C-6 carboxylic acids. To achieve its diverse roles and complex regulation, PEPC belongs to a small multigene family encoding several closely related PTPCs (plant-type PEPCs), along with a distantly related BTPC (bacterial-type PEPC). PTPC genes encode similar to 110-kDa polypeptides containing conserved serine-phosphorylation and lysine-mono-ubiquitination sites, and typically exist as homotetrameric Class-1 PEPCs. In contrast, BTPC genes encode larger similar to 117-kDa polypeptides owing to a unique intrinsically disordered domain that mediates BTPC's tight interaction with co-expressed PTPC subunits. This association results in the formation of unusual similar to 900-kDa Class-2 PEPC hetero-octameric complexes that are desensitized to allosteric effectors. BTPC is a catalytic and regulatory subunit of Class-2 PEPC that is subject to multi-site regulatory phosphorylation in vivo. The interaction between divergent PEPC polypeptides within Class-2 PEPCs adds another layer of complexity to the evolution, physiological functions and metabolic control of this essential CO2-fixing plant enzyme. The present review summarizes exciting developments concerning the functions, post-translational controls and subcellular location of plant PTPC and BTPC isoenzymes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-34
Number of pages20
JournalBiochemical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

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