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Planta. 2004 Apr;218(6):1019-25. Epub 2004 Jan 10.

Domain structures of chlorophyllide a oxygenase of green plants and Prochlorothrix hollandica in relation to catalytic functions.

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Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, and CREST, Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Kita-ku, N19 W8, 060-0819 Sapporo, Japan.


Chlorophyll b is a photosynthetic antenna pigment found in prochlorophytes and chlorophytes. In chlorophytes, its biosynthesis regulates the photosynthetic antenna size. Chlorophyll b is synthesized from chlorophyll a in a two-step oxygenation reaction by chlorophyllide a oxygenase (CAO). In this study, we first identified the entire sequence of a prochlorophyte CAO gene from Prochlorothrix hollandica to compare it with those from chlorophytes, and we examined the catalytic activity of the gene product. Southern blot analysis showed that the CAO gene is presented in one copy in the P. hollandica genome. The P. hollandica CAO gene (PhCAO) has a coding capacity for 367 amino acids, which is much smaller than that of Arabidopsis thaliana (537 amino acids) and Oryza sativa (542 amino acids) CAO genes. In spite of the small size, PhCAO catalyzed the formation of chlorophyll b. By comparing these sequences, we classified the land-plant sequences into four parts: the N-terminal sequence predicted to be a transit peptide, the successive conserved sequence unique in land plants (A-domain, 134 amino acids), a less-conserved sequence (B-domain, 30 amino acids) and the C-terminal conserved sequence common in chlorophytes and prochlorophytes (C-domain, 337 to 344 amino acids). We demonstrated that the C-domain is sufficient for catalytic activity by transforming the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 with the C-domain from A. thaliana. In this paper, the role of the A-domain is discussed in relation to the formation of light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b-protein complexes in land plants.

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