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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Nov;1807(11):1467-73. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.07.008. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

The stereochemistry of chlorophyll-c₃ from the haptophyte Emiliania huxleyi: the (13²R)-enantiomers of chlorophylls-c are exclusively selected as the photosynthetically active pigments in chromophyte algae.

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Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University, Kusatshu, Shiga 525-8577, Japan.


Chlorophyll(Chl)-c pigments in algae, diatoms and some prokaryotes are characterized by the fully conjugated porphyrin π-system as well as the acrylate residue at the 17-position. The precise structural characterization of Chl-c(3) from the haptophyte Emiliania huxleyi was performed. The conformations of the π-conjugated peripheral substituents, the 3-/8-vinyl, 7-methoxycarbonyl and 17-acrylate moieties were evaluated, in a solution, using nuclear Overhauser enhancement correlations and molecular modeling calculations. The rotation of the 17-acrylate residue was considerably restricted, whereas the other three substituents readily rotated at ambient temperature. Moreover, the stereochemistry at the 13²-position was determined by combination of chiral high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. Compared with the CD spectra of the structurally related, synthetic (13²R)- and (13²S)-protochlorophyllide(PChlide)-a, naturally occurring Chl-c₃ had exclusively the (13²R)-configuration. To elucidate this natural selection of a single enantiomer, we analyzed the three major Chl-c pigments (Chl-c₁, c₂ and c₃) in four phylogenetically distinct classes of Chl-c containing algae, i.e., heterokontophyta, dinophyta, cryptophyta and haptophyta using chiral HPLC. All the photosynthetic organisms contained only the (13²R)-enantiomerically pure Chls-c, and lacked the corresponding enantiomeric (13²S)-forms. Additionally, Chl-c₂ was found in all the organisms as the common Chl-c. These results throw a light on the biosynthesis as well as photosynthetic function of Chl-c pigments: Chl-c₂ is derived from 8-vinyl-PChlide-a by dehydrogenation of the 17-propionate to acrylate residues as generally proposed, and the (13²R)-enantiomers of Chls-c function as photosynthetically active, light-harvesting pigments together with the principal Chl-a and carotenoids.

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