Journal Article

Identification of Chlorophyllide <i>a</i> Oxygenase in the <i>Prochlorococcus</i> Genome by a Comparative Genomic Approach

Soichirou Satoh and Ayumi Tanaka

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 47, issue 12, pages 1622-1629
Published in print December 2006 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online December 2006 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:
Identification of Chlorophyllide a Oxygenase in the Prochlorococcus Genome by a Comparative Genomic Approach

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Chl b is a major photosynthetic pigment of peripheral antenna complexes in chlorophytes and prochlorophytes. Chl b is synthesized by chlorophyllide a oxygenase (CAO), an enzyme that has been identified from higher plants, moss, green algae and two groups of prochlorophytes, Prochlorothrix and Prochloron. Based on these results, we previously proposed the hypothesis that all of the Chl b synthesis genes have a common origin. However, the CAO gene is not found in whole genome sequences of Prochlorococcus although a gene which is distantly related to CAO was reported. If Prochlorococcus employs a different enzyme, a Chl synthesis gene should have evolved several times on the different phylogenetic lineages of Prochlorococcus and other Chl b-containing organisms. To examine these hypotheses, we identified a Prochlorococcus Chl b synthesis gene by using a combination of bioinformatics and molecular genetics techniques. We first identified Prochlorococcus-specific genes by comparing the whole genome sequences of Prochlorococcus marinus MED4, MIT9313 and SS120 with Synechococcus sp. WH8102. Synechococcus is closely related to Prochlorococcus phylogenetically, but it does not contain a Chl b synthesis gene. By examining the sequences of Prochlorococcus-specific genes, we found a candidate for the Chl b synthesis gene and introduced it into Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. The transformant cells accumulated Chl b, indicating that the gene product catalyzes Chl b synthesis. In this study, we discuss the evolution of CAO based upon the molecular phylogenetic studies we performed.

Keywords: BLAST; Chlorophyll; Chlorophyllide a oxygenase; Comparative genomics; Prochlorococcus

Journal Article.  4386 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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