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Biochem J. 1996 May 15; 316(Pt 1): 73–80.
PMCID: PMC1217352

Biosynthesis of isoprenoids (carotenoids, sterols, prenyl side-chains of chlorophylls and plastoquinone) via a novel pyruvate/glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate non-mevalonate pathway in the green alga Scenedesmus obliquus.


Isoprenoid biosynthesis was investigated in the green alga Scenedesmus obliquus grown heterotrophically on 13C-labelled glucose and acetate. Several isoprenoid compounds were isolated and investigated by 13C-NMR spectroscopy. According to the 13C-labelling pattern indicated by the 13C-NMR spectra, the biosynthesis of all plastidic isoprenoids investigated (prenyl side-chains of chlorophylls and plastoquinone-9, and the carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein), as well as of the non-plastidic cytoplasmic sterols, does not proceed via the classical acetate/mevalonate pathway (which leads from acetyl-CoA via mevalonate to isopentenyl diphosphate), but via the novel glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate/pyruvate route recently detected in eubacteria. Formation of isopentenyl diphosphate involves the condensation of a C2 unit derived from pyruvate decarboxylation with glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and a transposition yielding the branched C5 skeleton of isoprenic units.

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Selected References

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