Exposure of cells of cyanobacteria (blue–green algae) grown under high-CO2 conditions to inorganic C-limitation induces transcription of particular genes and expression of high-affinity CO2 and HCO3− transport systems. Among the low-CO2-inducible transcription units of Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942 is the cmpABCD operon, encoding an ATP-binding cassette transporter similar to the nitrate/nitrite transporter of the same cyanobacterium. A nitrogen-regulated promoter was used to selectively induce expression of the cmpABCD genes by growth of transgenic cells on nitrate under high CO2 conditions. Measurements of the initial rate of HCO3− uptake after onset of light, and of the steady-state rate of HCO3− uptake in the light, showed that the controlled induction of the cmp genes resulted in selective expression of high-affinity HCO3− transport activity. The forced expression of cmpABCD did not significantly increase the CO2 uptake capabilities of the cells. These findings demonstrated that the cmpABCD genes encode a high-affinity HCO3− transporter. A deletion mutant of cmpAB (M42) retained low CO2-inducible activity of HCO3− transport, indicating the occurrence of HCO3− transporter(s) distinct from the one encoded by cmpABCD. HCO3− uptake by low-CO2-induced M42 cells showed lower affinity for external HCO3− than for wild-type cells under the same conditions, showing that the HCO3− transporter encoded by cmpABCD has the highest affinity for HCO3− among the HCO3− transporters present in the cyanobacterium. This appears to be the first unambiguous identification and description of a primary active HCO3− transporter
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