A novel evolutionary lineage of carbonic anhydrase (epsilon class) is a component of the carboxysome shell

GS Espie
EB Williams
JM Shively


A significant portion of the total carbon fixed in the biosphere is attributed to the autotrophic metabolism of prokaryotes. In cyanobacteria and many chemolithoautotrophic bacteria, CO2 fixation is catalyzed by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), most if not all of which is packaged in protein microcompartments called carboxysomes. These structures play an integral role in a cellular CO2-concentrating mechanism and are essential components for autotrophic growth. Here we report that the carboxysomal shell protein, CsoS3, from Halothiobacillus neapolitanus is a novel carbonic anhydrase (epsilon-class CA) that has an evolutionary lineage distinct from those previously recognized in animals, plants, and other prokaryotes. Functional CAs encoded by csoS3 homologues were also identified in the cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus sp. and Synechococcus sp., which dominate the oligotrophic oceans and are major contributors to primary productivity. The location of the carboxysomal CA in the shell suggests that it could supply the active sites of RuBisCO in the carboxysome with the high concentrations of CO2 necessary for optimal RuBisCO activity and efficient carbon fixation in these prokaryotes, which are important contributors to the global carbon cycle.