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Photosynth Res. 2008 May;96(2):121-43. doi: 10.1007/s11120-008-9291-4. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Recent overview of the Mg branch of the tetrapyrrole biosynthesis leading to chlorophylls.

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  • 1Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.


In plants, chlorophylls (chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b) are the most abundant tetrapyrrole molecules and are essential for photosynthesis. The first committed step of chlorophyll biosynthesis is the insertion of Mg(2+) into protoporphyrin IX, and thus subsequent steps of the biosynthesis are called the Mg branch. As the Mg branch in higher plants is complex, it was not until the last decade--after many years of intensive research--that most of the genes encoding the enzymes for the pathway were identified. Biochemical and molecular genetic analyses have certainly modified the classic metabolic map of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis, and only recently have the molecular mechanisms of regulatory pathways governing chlorophyll metabolism been elucidated. As a result, novel functions of tetrapyrroles and biosynthetic enzymes have been proposed. In this review, I summarize the recent findings on enzymes involved in the Mg branch, mainly in higher plants.

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