Biochemistry, Department of


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Published in Proc. Nadl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 88, pp. 2712-2715, April 1991


Maize leaf phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase [PEPC; orthophosphate:oxaloacetate carboxy-lyase (phosphorylating), EC protein-serine kinase (PEPC-PK) phosphorylates serine-15 of its target enzyme, thus leading to an increase in catalytic activity and a concomitant decrease in malate sensitivity of this cytoplasmic C4 photosynthesis enzyme in the light. We have recently demonstrated that the PEPC-PK activity in maize leaves is slowly, but strikingly, increased in the light and decreased in darkness. In this report, we provide evidence that cycloheximide, an inhibitor of cytoplasmic protein synthesis, when fed to detached leaves of C4 monocots (maize, sorghum) and dicots (Portulaca oleracea) in the dark or light, completely prevents the in vivo light activation of PEPC-PK activity regardless of whether the protein kinase activity is assessed in vivo or in vitro. In contrast, chloramphenicol, an inhibitor of protein synthesis in chloroplasts, has no effect on the light activation of maize PEPC-PK. Similarly, treatment with cycloheximide did not influence the light activation of other photosynthesis-related enzymes in maize, including cytoplasmic sucrose-phosphate synthase and chloroplast stromal NADPH-malate dehydrogenase and pyruvate,P; dikinase. These and related results, in which detached maize leaves were treated simultaneously with cycloheximide and microcystin-LR, a potent in vivo and in vitro inhibitor of the PEPC type 2A protein phosphatase, indicate that short-term protein turnover of the PEPC-PK itself or some other essential component(s) (e.g., a putative protein that modifies this kinase activity) is one of the primary levels in the complex and unique regulatory cascade effecting the reversible light activation/ seryl phosphorylation of PEPC in the mesophyll cytoplasm of C4 plants.