Subunit interactions of Rubisco activase: polyethylene glycol promotes self-association, stimulates ATPase and activation activities, and enhances interactions with Rubisco

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1992 Nov 1;298(2):688-96. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(92)90467-b.


The effect of polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the enzymatic and physical properties of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) activase was examined. In the presence of PEG, Rubisco activase exhibited higher ATPase and Rubisco activating activities, concomitant with increased apparent affinity for ATP and Rubisco. Specific ATPase activity, which was dependent on Rubisco activase concentration, was also higher in the presence of Ficoll, polyvinylpyrrolidone, and bovine serum albumin. The ability of Rubisco activase to facilitate dissociation of the tight-binding inhibitor 2-carboxyarabinitol 1-phosphate from carbamylated Rubisco was also enhanced in the presence of PEG. Mixing experiments with Rubisco activase from two different sources showed that tobacco Rubisco activase, which exhibited little activation of spinach Rubisco by itself, was inhibitory when included with spinach Rubisco activase. Polyethylene glycol improved the ability of tobacco and a mixture of tobacco plus spinach Rubisco activase to activate spinach Rubisco. Estimates based on rate zonal sedimentation and gel-filtration chromatography indicated that the apparent molecular mass of Rubisco activase was two- to fourfold higher in the presence of PEG. The increase in apparent molecular mass was consistent with the propensity of solvent-excluding reagents like PEG to promote self-association of proteins. Likewise, the change in enzymatic properties of Rubisco activase in the presence of PEG and the dependence of specific activity on protein concentration resembled changes that often accompany self-association. For Rubisco activase, high concentrations of protein in the chloroplast stroma would provide an environment conducive to self-association and cause expression of properties that would enhance its ability to function efficiently in vivo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Molecular Weight
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Plants / enzymology
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase / isolation & purification
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tobacco / enzymology


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Plant Proteins
  • rca protein, plant
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Ribulose-Bisphosphate Carboxylase