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Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2008 Oct;7(10):1121-30. doi: 10.1039/b807209b. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Function and distribution of bilin biosynthesis enzymes in photosynthetic organisms.

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Physiology of Microorganisms, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitaetsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany.


Bilins are open-chain tetrapyrrole molecules essential for light-harvesting and/or sensing in many photosynthetic organisms. While they serve as chromophores in phytochrome-mediated light-sensing in plants, they additionally function in light-harvesting in cyanobacteria, red algae and cryptomonads. Associated to phycobiliproteins a variety of bile pigments is responsible for the specific light-absorbance properties of the organisms enabling efficient photosynthesis under different light conditions. The initial step of bilin biosynthesis is the cleavage of heme by heme oxygenases (HO) to afford the first linear molecule biliverdin. This reaction is ubiquitously found also in non-photosynthetic organisms. Biliverdin is then further reduced by site specific reductases most of them belonging to the interesting family of ferredoxin-dependent bilin reductases (FDBRs)-a new family of radical oxidoreductases. In recent years much progress has been made in the field of heme oxygenases but even more in the widespread family of FDBRs, revealing novel biochemical FDBR activities, new crystal structures and new ecological aspects, including the discovery of bilin biosynthesis genes in wild marine phage populations. The aim of this review is to summarize and discuss the recent progress in this field and to highlight the new and remaining questions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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