Carboxysomes are bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) that enhance CO2 fixation in all cyanobacteria. Structurally, carboxysome shell proteins are classified according to the type of oligomer formed: hexameric (BMC-H), trimeric (BMC-T) and pentameric (BMC-P) proteins. To understand the forces driving the evolution of the carboxysome shell, we conducted a bioinformatic study of genes encoding β-carboxysome shell proteins, taking advantage of the recent large increase in sequenced cyanobacterial genomes. In addition to the four well-established BMC-H (CcmK1-4) classes, our analysis reveals two new CcmK classes, which we name CcmK5 and CcmK6. CcmK5 is phylogenetically closest to CcmK3 and CcmK4, and the ccmK5 gene is found only in genomes lacking ccmK3 and ccmk4 genes. ccmK6 is found predominantly in heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria. The gene encoding the BMC-T homolog CcmO is associated with the main carboxysome locus (MCL) in only 60% of all species. We find five evolutionary origins of separation of ccmO from the MCL. Transcriptome analysis demonstrates that satellite ccmO genes, in contrast to MCL-associated ccmO genes, are never co-regulated with other MCL genes. The dispersal of carboxysome shell genes across the genome allows for distinct regulation of their expression, perhaps in response to changes in environmental conditions.
Keywords: BMC; Bacterial microcompartment; CcmK; CcmO; cyanobacteria; evolution; phylogeny; regulation; β-carboxysome.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.