Identification of a gene essential for the first committed step in the biosynthesis of bacteriochlorophyll c

Zhenfeng Liu, Donald A. Bryant

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Bacteriochlorophylls (BChls) c, d, and e are the major chlorophylls in chlorosomes, which are the largest and one of the most efficient antennae produced by chlorophototrophic organisms. In the biosynthesis of these three BChls, a C-132-methylcarboxyl group found in all other chlorophylls (Chls) must be removed. This reaction is postulated to be the first committed step in the synthesis of these BChls. Analyses of gene neighborhoods of (B)Chl biosynthesis genes and distribution patterns in organisms producing chlorosomes helped to identify a gene (bciC) that appeared to be a good candidate to produce the enzyme involved in this biochemical reaction. To confirm that this was the case, a deletion mutant of an open reading frame orthologous to bciC, CT1077, was constructed in Chlorobaculum tepidum, a genetically tractible green sulfur bacterium. The CT1077 deletion mutant was unable to synthesize BChl c but still synthesized BChl a and Chl a. The deletion mutant accumulated large amounts of various (bacterio)pheophorbides, all of which still had C-132- methylcarboxyl groups. A C. tepidum strain in which CT1077 was replaced by an orthologous gene, Cabther-B0031 from "Candidatus Chloracidobacterium thermophilum" was constructed. Although the product of Cabther-B0031 was only 28% identical to the product of CT1077, this strain synthesized BChl c, BChl a, and Chl a in amounts similar to wild-type C. tepidum cells. To indicate their roles in the first committed step of BChl c, d, and e biosynthesis, open reading frames CT1077 and Cabther-B0031 have been redesignated bciC. The potential mechanism by which BciC removes the C-132-methylcarboxyl moiety of chlorophyllide a is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22393-22402
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 24 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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