Phycocyanin α-subunit phycocyanobilin lyase

Craig D. Fairchild, Jindong Zhao, Jianhui Zhou, Sue Ellen Colson, Donald A. Bryant, Alexander N. Glazer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Phycobiliproteins, unlike other light-harvesting proteins involved in photosynthesis, bear covalently attached chromophores. The bilin chromophores are attached through thioether bonds to cysteine residues. The cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 has eight distinct bilin attachment sites on seven polvpeptides, all of which carry the same chromophore, phycocyanobilin. When two genes in the phycocyanin operon of this organism, cpcE and cpcF, are inactivated by insertion, together or separately, the surprising result is elimination of correct bilin attachment at only one site, that on the a subunit of phycocyanin. We have overproduced CpcE and CpcF in Escherichia coli. In vitro, these proteins catalyze the attachment of phycocyanobilin to the a subunit of apophycocyanin at the appropriate site, α-Cys-84, to form the correct adduct. CpcE and CpcF also efficiently catalyze the reverse reaction, in which the bilin from holo-α subunit is transferred either to the apo-α subunit of the same C-phycocyanin or to the apo-α subunit of a heterologous C-phycocyanin. The forward and reverse reactions each require both CpcE and CpcF and are specific for the α-Cys-84 position. Phycocyanobilin is the immediate precursor of the protein-bound bilin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7017-7021
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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