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Paper Chase

Spatially ordered dynamics of the bacterial carbon fixation machinery.

Science. Mar 05, 2010;327(5970):1258-61.
Savage DF, Afonso B, Chen AH, Silver PA.

Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Cyanobacterial carbon fixation is a major component of the global carbon cycle. This process requires the carboxysome, an organelle-like proteinaceous microcompartment that sequesters the enzymes of carbon fixation from the cytoplasm. Here, fluorescently tagged carboxysomes were found to be spatially ordered in a linear fashion. As a consequence, cells undergoing division evenly segregated carboxysomes in a nonrandom process. Mutation of the cytoskeletal protein ParA specifically disrupted carboxysome order, promoted random carboxysome segregation during cell division, and impaired carbon fixation after disparate partitioning. Thus, cyanobacteria use the cytoskeleton to control the spatial arrangement of carboxysomes and to optimize the metabolic process of carbon fixation.