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Biosynthesis of the modified tetrapyrroles: the pigments of life

Bryant, Donald A., Hunter, C. Neil, Warren, Martin J. (2020) Biosynthesis of the modified tetrapyrroles: the pigments of life. Journal of Biological Chemistry, . ISSN 0021-9258. E-ISSN 1083-351X. (doi:10.1074/jbc.REV120.006194) (KAR id:80865)


Modified tetrapyrroles are large macrocyclic compounds, consisting of diverse conjugation and metal chelation systems and imparting an array of colors to the biological structures that contain them. Tetrapyrroles represent some of the most complex small molecules synthesized by cells and are involved in many essential processes that are fundamental to life on Earth, including photosynthesis, respiration, and catalysis. These molecules are all derived from a common template through a series of enzyme-mediated transformations that alter the oxidation state of the macrocycle, and also modify its size, side chain composition, and the nature of the centrally chelated metal ion. The different modified tetrapyrroles include chlorophylls, hemes, siroheme, corrins (including vitamin B12), coenzyme F430, heme d1 and bilins. After nearly a century of study, almost all of the more than 90 different enzymes that synthesize this family of compounds are now known, and expression of reconstructed operons in heterologous hosts has confirmed that most pathways are complete. Aside from the highly diverse nature of the chemical reactions catalyzed, an interesting aspect of comparative biochemistry is to see how different enzymes and even entire pathways have evolved to perform alternative chemical reactions to produce the same end products in the presence and absence of oxygen. Although there is still much to learn, our current understanding of tetrapyrrole biogenesis represents a remarkable biochemical milestone that is summarized in this review.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1074/jbc.REV120.006194
Uncontrolled keywords: heme; chlorophyll, bilin; vitamin B12; cobalamin, coenzyme F430; heme d1; biosynthesis; tetrapyrrole; 5-aminolevulinic acid; uroporphyrinogen III; precorrin
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Biosciences
Depositing User: Susan Davies
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2020 08:37 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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