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MetaCyc Pathway: C4 photosynthetic carbon assimilation cycle, NADP-ME type

This view shows enzymes only for those organisms listed below, in the list of taxa known to possess the pathway. If an enzyme name is shown in bold, there is experimental evidence for this enzymatic activity.

Synonyms: PCA cycle, C4 photosynthesis, NADP-ME type

Superclasses: Generation of Precursor Metabolites and Energy Photosynthesis

Some taxa known to possess this pathway include ? : Zea mays

Expected Taxonomic Range: Embryophyta

General Background

The main CO2 fixation enzyme in plants, EC, ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), has both carboxylase (photosynthetic CO2 fixation) and oxygenase (photorespiration) activities. The carboxylase activity is favored at high CO2/O2 ratio, whereas the oxygenase activity predominates at a decreased CO2/O2 ratio.

At the time when RuBisCO first evolved, atmospheric CO2 concentration was very high and thus the enzyme's carboxylase activity was favored. However, later in evolution, atmospheric O2 concentration began to rise and RuBisCO's oxygenase activity increased at the expense of the carboxylase activity. At current CO2 levels, photorespiration can reduce photosynthesis by more than 40%.

C4 plants have evolved to respond to lowered CO2 levels. The C4 photosynthetic carbon assimilation cycle starts with carbon fixation in the mesophyll cells by a combination of EC, carbonic anhydrase, which converts the gasous CO2 to soluble hydrogen carbonate, and EC, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, which incorporates the latter, forming the C4 acid oxaloacetate. Oxaloacetate or a derivative thereof (L-aspartate) is then transported from the mesophyll cells to bundle sheath cells. Once inside the bundle sheath cells, CO2 is released from the C4 acids, generating a micro-environment with a much higher concentration of CO2, suitable for an efficient carboxylation by RuBisCO.

There are at least three variations of the C4 photosynthetic carbon assimilation cycle in plants, namely the NADP-ME (NADP-malic enzyme), NAD-ME (NAD-malic enzyme), or PEPCK (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase) types. The NADP-ME variant does not involve L-aspartate and utilizes an NADP-dependent malic enzyme to releases CO2 from (S)-malate. The NAD-ME variant does involve L-aspartate and utilizes an NAD-dependent malic enzyme. The PEPCK variant contains an additional route for CO2 release by EC, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (ATP).

About This Pathway

This MetaCyc pathway describes the NADP-ME variant, found in major C4 crops such as maize, sorghum, and sugar cane. Note that the pathway spans two cell types, mesophyll and bundle sheath cells. The initial CO2 fixation occurs in the mesophyll cells, producing oxaloacetate that is subsequently converted to (S)-malate. Malate is transported into bundle sheath cells and CO2 is released there by an NADP-dependent malic enzyme. Pyruvate reenters the mesophyll cells and replenishes phosphoenolpyruvate.

Experimental evidence indicates that CO2 fixation in cyanobacteria is mediated by the C3 pathway, and although C4 acids are among the initial products of photosynthesis, these organisms do not have the enzymatic capacity for the operation of a C4 pathway [Colman89].

Revised 05-Sep-2014 by Caspi R , SRI International


Beverly89: Beverly Rothermel, Timothy Nelson J. Bio. Chem. (1989) 264: 19587-19592.

Colman89: Colman, B. (1989). "Photosynthetic Carbon Assimilation and the Suppression of Photorespiration in the Cyanobacteria." quatic Botany 34:211-231.

Other References Related to Enzymes, Genes, Subpathways, and Substrates of this Pathway

Bologna07: Bologna FP, Andreo CS, Drincovich MF (2007). "Escherichia coli malic enzymes: two isoforms with substantial differences in kinetic properties, metabolic regulation, and structure." J Bacteriol 189(16);5937-46. PMID: 17557829

BRENDA14: BRENDA team (2014). "Imported from BRENDA version existing on Aug 2014."

Brown81: Brown DA, Cook RA (1981). "Role of metal cofactors in enzyme regulation. Differences in the regulatory properties of the Escherichia coli nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate specific malic enzyme, depending on whether magnesium ion or manganese ion serves as divalent cation." Biochemistry 1981;20(9);2503-12. PMID: 7016178

Ferte86: Ferte N, Jacquot JP, Meunier JC (1986). "Structural, immunological and kinetic comparisons of NADP-dependent malate dehydrogenases from spinach (C3) and corn (C4) chloroplasts." Eur J Biochem 154(3);587-95. PMID: 3948869

Fett94: Fett JP, Coleman JR (1994). "Characterization and expression of two cDNAs encoding carbonic anhydrase in Arabidopsis thaliana." Plant Physiol 105(2);707-13. PMID: 7520589

Furumoto00: Furumoto, T et. al. Plant Cell Physiol (2000) 41:1200-1209 .

Gennidakis07: Gennidakis S, Rao S, Greenham K, Uhrig RG, O'Leary B, Snedden WA, Lu C, Plaxton WC (2007). "Bacterial- and plant-type phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase polypeptides interact in the hetero-oligomeric Class-2 PEPC complex of developing castor oil seeds." Plant J 52(5);839-49. PMID: 17894783

Guilloton92: Guilloton MB, Korte JJ, Lamblin AF, Fuchs JA, Anderson PM (1992). "Carbonic anhydrase in Escherichia coli. A product of the cyn operon." J Biol Chem 1992;267(6);3731-4. PMID: 1740425

Izui70: Izui K (1970). "Kinetic studies on the allosteric nature of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase from Escherichia coli." J Biochem 68(2);227-38. PMID: 4917116

Izui81: Izui K, Taguchi M, Morikawa M, Katsuki H (1981). "Regulation of Escherichia coli phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase by multiple effectors in vivo. II. Kinetic studies with a reaction system containing physiological concentrations of ligands." J Biochem 90(5);1321-31. PMID: 7040354

Izui83: Izui K, Matsuda Y, Kameshita I, Katsuki H, Woods AE (1983). "Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase of Escherichia coli. Inhibition by various analogs and homologs of phosphoenolpyruvate." J Biochem (Tokyo) 1983;94(6);1789-95. PMID: 6368527

Kagawa88: Kagawa T, Bruno PL (1988). "NADP-malate dehydrogenase from leaves of Zea mays: purification and physical, chemical, and kinetic properties." Arch Biochem Biophys 260(2);674-95. PMID: 3341761

Kai99: Kai Y, Matsumura H, Inoue T, Terada K, Nagara Y, Yoshinaga T, Kihara A, Tsumura K, Izui K (1999). "Three-dimensional structure of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase: a proposed mechanism for allosteric inhibition." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 96(3);823-8. PMID: 9927652

Kameshita79: Kameshita I, Tokushige M, Izui K, Katsuki H (1979). "Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase of Escherichia coli. Affinity labeling with bromopyruvate." J Biochem (Tokyo) 1979;86(5);1251-7. PMID: 42643

Keilin39: Keilin, D., Mann, T. (1939). "Carbonic anhydrase." Nature 144:442-443.

Krall93: Krall, John, Edwards, Gerald (1993). "PEP Carboxylases from Two C4 Species of Panicum with Markedly Different Susceptibilities to Cold Inactivation." Plant Cell Physiol. 34(1): 1-11.

Latendresse13: Latendresse M. (2013). "Computing Gibbs Free Energy of Compounds and Reactions in MetaCyc."

Matsumura99a: Matsumura H, Nagata T, Terada M, Shirakata S, Inoue T, Yoshinaga T, Ueno Y, Saze H, Izui K, Kai Y (1999). "Crystallization and preliminary x-ray diffraction studies of C4-form phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase from maize." Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr 1999;55(11);1937-8. PMID: 10531501

Matsuoka88a: Matsuoka M, Ozeki Y, Yamamoto N, Hirano H, Kano-Murakami Y, Tanaka Y (1988). "Primary structure of maize pyruvate, orthophosphate dikinase as deduced from cDNA sequence." J Biol Chem 263(23);11080-3. PMID: 2841317

Matsuoka88b: Matsuoka, M. J Biol Chem (1988) 263:11080-11083.

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Report Errors or Provide Feedback
Please cite the following article in publications resulting from the use of MetaCyc: Caspi et al, Nucleic Acids Research 42:D459-D471 2014
Page generated by SRI International Pathway Tools version 18.5 on Fri Nov 28, 2014, BIOCYC14A.