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Biochem Soc Trans. 2000 Dec;28(6):806-10.

Molecular evolution of lycopene cyclases involved in the formation of carotenoids with ionone end groups.

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  • 1Biosynthesis Group, Botanical Institute, J.W. Goethe Universit├Ąt, P.O. Box 111930, D-60054 Frankfurt, Germany.


A survey is given of the lycopene cyclase genes present in bacteria, fungi and plants where two completely unrelated types exist. One is the classical monomeric bacterial beta-cyclase gene, crtY, which may be an ancestor of crtL, the gene for a beta-cyclase in cyanobacteria. From crtL a line of evolution can be drawn to plant beta- and epsilon-cyclase genes and to the gene of capsanthin/capsorubin synthase. In Gram-positive bacteria two genes crtYc and crtYd are present. They encode two proteins which have to interact as a heterodimer for lycopene beta-cyclization. From this type of lycopene cyclase gene the fungal lycopene cyclase/phytoene synthase fusion gene evolved.

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