Journal of experimental botany

Malate decarboxylases: evolution and roles of NAD(P)-ME isoforms in species performing C(4) and C(3) photosynthesis.

PMID 21459769


In the C(4) pathway of photosynthesis two types of malate decarboxylases release CO(2) in bundle sheath cells, NADP- and NAD-dependent malic enzyme (NADP-ME and NAD-ME), located in the chloroplasts and the mitochondria of these cells, respectively. The C(4) decarboxylases involved in C(4) photosynthesis did not evolve de novo; they were recruited from existing housekeeping isoforms. NADP-ME housekeeping isoforms would function in the control of malate levels during hypoxia, pathogen defence responses, and microspore separation, while NAD-ME participates in the respiration of malate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Recently, the existence of three enzymatic NAD-ME entities in Arabidopsis, occurring by alternative association of two subunits, was described as a novel mechanism to regulate NAD-ME activity under changing metabolic environments. The C(4) NADP-ME is thought to have evolved from a C(3) chloroplastic ancestor, which in turn would have evolved from an ancient cytosolic enzyme. In this way, the C(4) NADP-ME would have emerged through gene duplication, acquisition of a new promoter, and neo-functionalization. In contrast, there would exist a unique NAD-ME in C(4) plants, which would have been adapted to perform a dual function through changes in the kinetic and regulatory properties of the C(3) ancestors. In addition to this, for the evolution of C(4) NAD-ME, insertion of promoters or enhancers into the single-copy genes of the C(3) ancestors would have changed the expression without gene duplication.