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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1995 Apr 26;209(3):867-76.

Canthaxanthin biosynthesis by the conversion of methylene to keto groups in a hydrocarbon beta-carotene by a single gene.

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  • 1Central Laboratories for Key Technology, Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd., Kanagawa, Japan.


Compounds that include (a) keto group(s) in a molecule are ubiquitous natural components. A novel gene involved in ketocompound biosynthesis, designated crtW, was isolated from the marine bacteria Agrobacterium aurantiacum and Alcaligenes PC-1 that produce ketocarotenoids such as astaxanthin. When this gene was introduced into Escherichia coli that accumulated beta-carotene due to the Erwinia carotenogenic genes, the E. coli transformants synthesized canthaxanthin, one of ketocarotenoids, which was identified after purification by its visible, FD-MS and 1H-NMR spectral analysis. It has been demonstrated for the first time that one gene encodes an enzyme "ketolase" that catalyzes the conversion of methylene groups of a hydrocarbon beta-carotene to keto groups for synthesizing canthaxanthin via echinenone.

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