Carbonic anhydrase is an ancient enzyme widespread in prokaryotes

Kerry S. Smith, Claudia Jakubzick, Thomas S. Whittam, James G. Ferry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

335 Scopus citations


Carbonic anhydrases catalyze the reversible hydration of CO2 and are ubiquitous in highly evolved eukaryotes. The recent identification of a third class of carbonic anhydrase (γ class) in a methanoarchaeon and our present finding that the β class also extends into thermophilic species from the Archaea domain led us to initiate a systematic search for these enzymes in metabolically and phylogenetically diverse prokaryotes. Here we show that carbonic anhydrase is widespread in the Archaea and Bacteria domains, and is an ancient enzyme. The occurrence in chemolithoautotrophic species occupying deep branches of the universal phylogenetic tree suggests a role for this enzyme in the proposed autotrophic origin of life. The presence of the β and γ classes in metabolically diverse species spanning the Archaea and Bacteria domains demonstrates that carbonic anhydrases have a far more extensive and fundamental role in prokaryotic biology than previously recognized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15184-15189
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 21 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Carbonic anhydrase is an ancient enzyme widespread in prokaryotes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this