Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



Plant Physiol. (1992) 98, 152-156


Copyright American Society of Plant Biologists. Used by permission.


C4 phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) is post-translationally regulated by reversible phosphorylation of a specific N-terminal seryl residue in response to light/dark transitions of the parent leaf tissue. The protein-serine kinase (PEPC-PK) that phosphorylates/activates this mesophyll-cytoplasm target enzyme is slowly, but strikingly, activated by high light and inactivated in darkness in vivo by a mechanism involving cytoplasmic protein synthesis/degradation as a primary component. In this report, evidence is presented indicating that the inhibition of Calvin cycle activity by a variety of mesophyll (3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea, isocil, methyl viologen) and bundle sheath (DL-glyceraldehyde)-directed photosynthesis inhibitors blocks the light activation of maize (Zea mays L.) PEPC-PK and the ensuing regulatory phosphorylation of its target enzyme in vivo. Based on these and related observations, we propose that the Calvin cycle supplies the C4 mesophyll cell with (a) a putative signal (e.g. phosphorylated metabolite, amino acid) that interacts with the cytoplasmic protein synthesis event to effect the light activation of PEPC-PK and the concomitant phosphorylation of PEPC, and (b) high levels of known positive effectors (e.g. triosephosphate, glucose-6-phosphate) that interact directly with the carboxylase. The combined result of this complex regulatory cascade is to effectively desensitize PEPC to feedback inhibition by the millimolar levels of L-malate required for rapid diffusive transport to the bundle sheath during high rates of C4 photosynthesis.