Molecular genetic and molecular evolutionary studies on the bacteriochlorophyll synthesis genes of Rhodobacter capsulatus
Description: Rhodobacter capsulatus, purple bacterium capable of either aerobic or photosynthetic growth, has proven to be very useful in genetic studies of photosynthesis. Forty-four genes clustered together within a 46 kilobase region are required to establish photosynthetic ability in R. capsulatus. Approximately twenty of these genes are involved in bacteriochlorophyll synthesis of which eight ``bch`` genes are the subject of this thesis. Six of these genes were found to code for the two ring reductases. The first converts protochlorophyllide (PChlide) into a chlorin, the immediate precursor to chlorophyll a, and then into a bacteriochlorin. Each reductase is shown to be made up of three subunits. PChlide reductase is coded by the genes bchN, bchB, and bchL. Proteins with amino acid sequences markedly similar to those of bchN and bchL have been shown in other organisms to be required for chlorophyll synthesis; hence, their designation as chlN and chlB. A third chloroplast-encoded gene of heretofore unknown function shares amino acid identities with bchB and is probably the third subunit of the plant PChlide reductase. The bchA locus, which encodes the chlorin reductase, is found to be made up of three separate, translationally coupled genes, referred to as bchX, bchY, and bchZ. Amino acid similarities between bchX, bchL, and the nitrogenase reductase protein nifH suggest that all three classes of proteins share certain three-dimensional structural features, including elements that are central to the enzymatic mechanism of nifH. PChlide reductase and chlorin reductase are clearly derived from a common ancestor. Several lines of analysis suggests the ancestor of both enzyme systems reduced PChlide twice to produce bacteriochlorophyll supporting the concept bacteriochlorophyll as the ancestral reaction center pigment.
Date: August 1, 1992
Creator: Burke-Agueero, D. H.