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Plant Cell. 2011 Sep;23(9):3454-62. doi: 10.1105/tpc.111.089102. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Tetrapyrrole synthesis of photosynthetic chromerids is likely homologous to the unusual pathway of apicomplexan parasites.

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Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.


Most photosynthetic eukaryotes synthesize both heme and chlorophyll via a common tetrapyrrole biosynthetic pathway starting from glutamate. This pathway was derived mainly from cyanobacterial predecessor of the plastid and differs from the heme synthesis of the plastid-lacking eukaryotes. Here, we show that the coral-associated alveolate Chromera velia, the closest known photosynthetic relative to Apicomplexa, possesses a tetrapyrrole pathway that is homologous to the unusual pathway of apicomplexan parasites. We also demonstrate that, unlike other eukaryotic phototrophs, Chromera synthesizes chlorophyll from glycine and succinyl-CoA rather than glutamate. Our data shed light on the evolution of the heme biosynthesis in parasitic Apicomplexa and photosynthesis-related biochemical processes in their ancestors.

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