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Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a unicellular green alga, grows photoautotrophically at very low concentrations of inorganic carbon due to the presence of an inducible CO2-concentrating mechanism. During the induction of the CO2-concentrating mechanism at low-CO2 growth conditions, at least five polypeptides that are either absent or present in low amounts in cells grown on high-CO2 concentrations are induced. One of these induced polypeptides with a molecular mass of 36 kD, LIP-36, has been localized to the chloroplast envelope. The protein was purified and the partial internal amino acid sequences were obtained through lys-C digestion. Two cDNAs encoding LIP-36 have been cloned using degenerate primers based on the amino acid sequences. The two genes encoding LIP-36 are highly homologous in the coding region but are completely different in the 5'-end and 3'-end untranslated regions. The deduced protein sequences show strong homology to the mitochondrial carrier protein superfamily, suggesting that LIP-36 is a chloroplast carrier protein. The regulation of the expression of these two genes at high- and low-CO2 growth conditions is also different. Both genes were highly expressed under low-CO2 growth conditions, with the steady-state level of LIP-36 G1 mRNA more abundant. However, neither gene was expressed at high-CO2 growth conditions. The gene products of both clones expressed in Escherichia coli were recognized by an antibody raised against LIP-36, confirming that the two cDNAs indeed encode the C. reinhardtii chloroplast envelope carrier protein LIP-36.

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Plant Physiology

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