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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Jul;1767(7):920-9. Epub 2007 Apr 3.

Continuous chlorophyll degradation accompanied by chlorophyllide and phytol reutilization for chlorophyll synthesis in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

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School of Life Sciences and Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis, Arizona State University, Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.


Chlorophyll synthesis and degradation were analyzed in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 by incubating cells in the presence of 13C-labeled glucose or 15N-containing salts. Upon mass spectral analysis of chlorophyll isolated from cells grown in the presence of 13C-glucose for different time periods, four chlorophyll pools were detected that differed markedly in the amount of 13C incorporated into the porphyrin (Por) and phytol (Phy) moieties of the molecule. These four pools represent (i) unlabeled chlorophyll (12Por12Phy), (ii) 13C-labeled chlorophyll (13Por13Phy), and (iii, iv) chlorophyll, in which either the porphyrin or the phytol moiety was 13C-labeled, whereas the other constituent of the molecule remained unlabeled (13Por12Phy and 12Por13Phy). The kinetics of 12Por12Phy disappearance, presumably due to chlorophyll de-esterification, and of 13Por12Phy, 12Por13Phy, and 13Por13Phy accumulation due to chlorophyll synthesis provided evidence for continuous chlorophyll turnover in Synechocystis cells. The loss of 12Por12Phy was three-fold faster in a photosystem I-less strain than in a photosystem II-less strain and was accelerated in wild-type cells upon exposure to strong light. These data suggest that most chlorophyll appears to be de-esterified in Synechocystis upon dissociation and repair of damaged photosystem II. A substantial part of chlorophyllide and phytol released upon the de-esterification of chlorophyll can be recycled for the biosynthesis of new chlorophyll molecules contributing to the formation of 13Por12Phy and 12Por13Phy chlorophyll pools. The phytol kinase, Slr1652, plays a significant but not absolutely critical role in this recycling process.

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