A Minimized Cyanobacterial Microcompartment for CO2 Fixation


Executive Summary


Carboxysomes form an essential part of the cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanism which reduces losses from photorespiration and increases the tolerance to low external CO2 concentrations.  This efficiency-enhancing mechanism cannot be found in algae or higher plants, where it may be used to increase photosynthetic efficiency or improve production of secondary metabolites.  Carboxysomes are multi-protein complexes, which makes them difficult to transfer out of the cyanobacterial host into, for example, higher plants.  Our technology creates simplified carboxysomes in algae or higher plants, which allows the carboxysome to be engineered into algae or plants, thereby enabling increased photosynthesis or improved secondary metabolite production. 


Description of Technology


This invention is the fusion of four key domains from the carboxysome core proteins into one protein (CcmC). This enables easier portability into other organisms and simplified regulation of carboxysome formation, as well as an opportunity to optimize carbon sequestration in that compartment. Additionally, the carboxysome core forms a scaffold that lays the basis for the design of novel compartments with industrially relevant functions (i.e. non-photosynthetic functions) using enzymes that will self-assemble on the CcmC architecture.


Key Benefits

  • Ease of implementation- One transcription in transformation
  • Decreases genetic load- core proteins to insert reduced from 4 to 1
  • Scaffolding platform- Carboxysome core could be used as scaffold for other proteins



  • Engineer other proteins to bind to novel scaffold for novel activities
  • Could increase photosynthetic efficiency in heterologous photosynthetic organisms.


Patent Status: 


US patent 15/685,742


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available.  Also interested in funded development projects.


Inventors: Dr. Cheryl Kerfeld, Dr. Cesar Gonzalez


Tech ID: TEC2016-0006


Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Julia Miller
AgBio Technology Manager
Michigan State University