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Arch Microbiol. 2003 May;179(5):354-62. Epub 2003 Mar 28.

Characterization of unusual hydroxy- and ketocarotenoids in Rubrivivax gelatinosus: involvement of enzyme CrtF or CrtA.

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Laboratoire de Génétique des Bactéries Photosynthétiques. Centre de Génétique Moléculaire, UPR2167 associée à l'Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, bât. 24 C.N.R.S., 91198, Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France.


Carotenoids are widely spread terpenoids found in photosynthetic organisms and a number of non-photosynthetic fungi and bacteria. The photosynthetic non-sulfur purple bacterium Rubrivivax gelatinosus produces carotenoids by both the spheroidene and the normal spirilloxanthin pathways. The characteristics of two carotenogenesis enzymes, spheroidene monooxygenase CrtA and O-methyltransferase CrtF, were investigated. Disruption of the corresponding genes by insertional mutagenesis affected carotenoid species in both pathways, and the genetic evidence indicated that both genes are involved in the two pathways. In these mutants, several unusual hydroxy- and ketocarotenoids were identified by spectroscopic and chemical methods. Moreover, the carotenoid analyses demonstrated that a large number of different carotenoid intermediates are accepted as substrates by the CrtA enzyme. The combined manipulation of crtF and crtA allowed new carotenoids to be produced and broadened the diversity of structurally different carotenoids synthesized by Rvi. gelatinosus. Methylated carotenoids, such as spheroidene and spirilloxanthin, are known to function as accessory pigments in the light-harvesting and reaction-center complexes of purple bacteria; the demethylated carotenoids described here were able to fulfill the same functions in the mutants.

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