Quantitative evaluation of the role of a putative CO2-scavenging entity in the cyanobacterial CO2-concentrating mechanism

Biosystems. 1996;37(3):229-38. doi: 10.1016/0303-2647(95)01561-2.


This paper assesses the contribution of a postulated CO2-scavenging system to the efficient operation of the CO2-concentrating mechanism (CCM) in cyanobacteria. A quantitative model for the CCM is presented which incorporates an energy-dependent carbonic anhydrase-like entity located at or near the inner surface of the plasma membrane. This entity, which converts CO2 to HCO3- against the thermodynamic potential, scavenges CO2 leaking outward from the carboxysomes, and, further, converts CO2 entering from the medium to HCO3-, thus maintaining an inward diffusion gradient along which CO2 enters passively. The model resembles our earlier models in postulating that CO2 and HCO3- are not at equilibrium throughout the greater part of the cell, and that CO2 is generated in high concentration at carbonic anhydrase sites within the carboxysomes. The model further takes into account the concentric thylakoid membranes which surround the carboxysomes, and events in the periplasmic space and the unstirred layer surrounding the cell. Implications of the predicted steady state fluxes of CO2 and HCO3-, and of their steady state concentrations in various cellular compartments, are discussed. The plasma membrane carbonic anhydrase-like activity lowers the photosynthetic Km for external Ci, as well as decreasing the inorganic C 'leak', but it may not save on energy expenditure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicarbonates / metabolism
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Thermodynamics


  • Bicarbonates
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbonic Anhydrases