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EMBO J. 1995 Mar 1;14(5):857-65.

Coordinate expression of coproporphyrinogen oxidase and cytochrome c6 in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in response to changes in copper availability.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Los Angeles 90024-1569.


To maintain photosynthetic competence under copper-deficient conditions, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii substitutes a heme protein (cytochrome c6) for an otherwise essential copper protein, viz. plastocyanin. Here, we report that the gene encoding coproporphyrinogen oxidase, an enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway, is coordinately expressed with cytochrome c6 in response to changes in copper availability. We have purified coproporphyrinogen oxidase from copper-deficient C.reinhardtii cells, and have cloned a cDNA fragment which encodes it. Northern hybridization analysis confirmed that the protein is nuclear-encoded and that, like cytochrome c6, its expression is regulated by copper at the level of mRNA accumulation. The copper-responsive expression of coproporphyrinogen oxidase parallels cytochrome c6 expression exactly. Specifically, the copper-sensing range and metal selectivity of the regulatory components, as well as the time course of the responses, are identical. Hence, we propose that the expression of these two proteins is controlled by the same metalloregulatory mechanism. Our findings represent a novel metalloregulatory response in which the synthesis of one redox cofactor (heme) is controlled by the availability of another (Cu).

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