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J Biol Chem. 1986 Oct 5;261(28):12925-9.

The gene crtI mediates the conversion of phytoene into colored carotenoids in Rhodopseudomonas capsulata.


Carotenoids are membrane pigments present in all photosynthetic organisms, providing essential photoprotective functions. The first carotenoid formed in the pathway is phytoene, a colorless compound which is then converted into colored carotenoids by a series of dehydrogenation reactions. In the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas capsulata mutations that affect carotenoid biosynthesis before colored carotenoids are formed have a "blue-green" phenotype as opposed to the "red" of wild type cells. We have extracted carotenoids from several blue-green mutants and found that two strains (BPY69 and BPY102) accumulate phytoene and no colored carotenoids. These mutants failed to dehydrogenate phytoene in an in vitro assay. However, dehydrogenation of this compound can be achieved in vitro by adding a cell-free extract from another blue-green mutant blocked earlier in the pathway. Genetic complementation and deletion mapping indicate that the gene crtI is responsible for the conversion of phytoene into colored carotenoids in these mutants.

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