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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Dec 8;95(25):14851-6.

Tracking molecular evolution of photosynthesis by characterization of a major photosynthesis gene cluster from Heliobacillus mobilis.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


A DNA sequence has been obtained for a 35.6-kb genomic segment from Heliobacillus mobilis that contains a major cluster of photosynthesis genes. A total of 30 ORFs were identified, 20 of which encode enzymes for bacteriochlorophyll and carotenoid biosynthesis, reaction-center (RC) apoprotein, and cytochromes for cyclic electron transport. Donor side electron-transfer components to the RC include a putative RC-associated cytochrome c553 and a unique four-large-subunit cytochrome bc complex consisting of Rieske Fe-S protein (encoded by petC), cytochrome b6 (petB), subunit IV (petD), and a diheme cytochrome c (petX). Phylogenetic analysis of various photosynthesis gene products indicates a consistent grouping of oxygenic lineages that are distinct and descendent from anoxygenic lineages. In addition, H. mobilis was placed as the closest relative to cyanobacteria, which form a monophyletic origin to chloroplast-based photosynthetic lineages. The consensus of the photosynthesis gene trees also indicates that purple bacteria are the earliest emerging photosynthetic lineage. Our analysis also indicates that an ancient gene-duplication event giving rise to the paralogous bchI and bchD genes predates the divergence of all photosynthetic groups. In addition, our analysis of gene duplication of the photosystem I and photosystem II core polypeptides supports a "heterologous fusion model" for the origin and evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis.

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