Plant RuBisCo, a complex of eight large and eight small subunits, catalyzes the fixation of CO2 in photosynthesis. The low catalytic efficiency of RuBisCo provides strong motivation to reengineer the enzyme with the goal of increasing crop yields. However, genetic manipulation has been hampered by the failure to express plant RuBisCo in a bacterial host. We achieved the functional expression of Arabidopsis thaliana RuBisCo in Escherichia coli by coexpressing multiple chloroplast chaperones. These include the chaperonins Cpn60/Cpn20, RuBisCo accumulation factors 1 and 2, RbcX, and bundle-sheath defective-2 (BSD2). Our structural and functional analysis revealed the role of BSD2 in stabilizing an end-state assembly intermediate of eight RuBisCo large subunits until the small subunits become available. The ability to produce plant RuBisCo recombinantly will facilitate efforts to improve the enzyme through mutagenesis.

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