PLGG1, a plastidic glycolate glycerate transporter, is required for photorespiration and defines a unique class of metabolite transporters

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 19;110(8):3185-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215142110. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Photorespiratory carbon flux reaches up to a third of photosynthetic flux, thus contributes massively to the global carbon cycle. The pathway recycles glycolate-2-phosphate, the most abundant byproduct of RubisCO reactions. This oxygenation reaction of RubisCO and subsequent photorespiration significantly limit the biomass gains of many crop plants. Although photorespiration is a compartmentalized process with enzymatic reactions in the chloroplast, the peroxisomes, the mitochondria, and the cytosol, no transporter required for the core photorespiratory cycle has been identified at the molecular level to date. Using transcript coexpression analyses, we identified Plastidal glycolate glycerate translocator 1 (PLGG1) as a candidate core photorespiratory transporter. Related genes are encoded in the genomes of archaea, bacteria, fungi, and all Archaeplastida and have previously been associated with a function in programmed cell-death. A mutant deficient in PLGG1 shows WT-like growth only in an elevated carbon dioxide atmosphere. The mutant accumulates glycolate and glycerate, leading to the hypothesis that PLGG1 is a glycolate/glycerate transporter. This hypothesis was tested and supported by in vivo and in vitro transport assays and (18)O(2)-metabolic flux profiling. Our results indicate that PLGG1 is the chloroplastidic glycolate/glycerate transporter, which is required for the function of the photorespiratory cycle. Identification of the PLGG1 transport function will facilitate unraveling the role of similar proteins in bacteria, archaea, and fungi in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism*
  • Glycolates / metabolism*
  • Light*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Plastids*


  • Glycolates
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • glycolic acid
  • Oxygen