Date of Award

Fall 12-2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry and Biochemistry


Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Committee Chair

Gordon Cannon

Committee Chair Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Member 2

Sabine Heinhorst

Committee Member 2 Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Member 3

Faqing Huang

Committee Member 3 Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Member 4

Kenneth Curry

Committee Member 4 Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Member 5

Mohamed Elasri

Committee Member 5 Department

Biological Sciences


This study was designed to achieve better understanding of (1) how carboxysome genes are regulated and expressed to yield with precise relative ratios and (2) the in vivo roles of two sets of conserved bacterial microcompartment genes, namely the three csoSl and two csoS4 genes of H. neapolitanus, in the biogenesis and function of the carboxysome. For the first goal, a detailed transcriptional profile of carboxysomal genes in H. neapolitanus was established using absolute quantification real-time RT-PCR and transcript ends analysis. This transcriptional profile revealed that a single promoter, denoted cso promoter, was located upstream from the clustered carboxysomal genes. Transcripts of all nine carboxysomal genes were detectable but were present at different levels. In vivo activities of the cso promoter and selected internal non-coding regions within the carboxysome operon were further examined by using a promoter reporter vector and by generating a cso promoter deletion mutant. Both experiments established the cso promoter as the only promoter in the carboxysome operon. This result, together with the transcriptional profile of carboxysomal genes, strongly implied that the primary transcript of the H. neapolitanus cso operon undergoes differential processing and/or decay and results in different expression levels of individual carboxysomal proteins. To address the functions of three CsoSl paralogs, in vivo and in vitro experiments were performed. Fusing a tetracysteine motif to the C-terminus of CsoSl A confirmed that all three CsoSl proteins are carboxysome components. A truncated csoSIB mutant and a site-directed mutant of csoSl A were generated to address the functions of the C-terminal extension of the CsoSIB polypeptide and of the central pore in the CsoSl A hexamer, respectively. An attempt was made to gain better insights into the spatial orientations of CsoS 1 proteins and other carboxysome shell components via chemical modification on the carboxysome surface. Finally, single and double knockout mutants were generated for functional study of csoS4A and csoS4B genes. Phenotypic and kinetic characterization of these mutants revealed that lack of CsoS4 proteins resulted in a more permeable shell which cannot provide the catalytic advantage to ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO).

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