PloS one

Mechanistic reappraisal of early stage photochemistry in the light-driven enzyme protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase.

PMID 23049830


The light-driven enzyme protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (POR) catalyzes the reduction of protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) to chlorophyllide (Chlide). This reaction is a key step in the biosynthesis of chlorophyll. Ultrafast photochemical processes within the Pchlide molecule are required for catalysis and previous studies have suggested that a short-lived excited-state species, known as I675*, is the first catalytic intermediate in the reaction and is essential for capturing excitation energy to drive subsequent hydride and proton transfers. The chemical nature of the I675* excited state species and its role in catalysis are not known. Here, we report time-resolved pump-probe spectroscopy measurements to study the involvement of the I675* intermediate in POR photochemistry. We show that I675* is not unique to the POR-catalyzed photoreduction of Pchlide as it is also formed in the absence of the POR enzyme. The I675* species is only produced in samples that contain both Pchlide substrate and Chlide product and its formation is dependent on the pump excitation wavelength. The rate of formation and the quantum yield is maximized in 50∶50 mixtures of the two pigments (Pchlide and Chlide) and is caused by direct energy transfer between Pchlide and neighboring Chlide molecules, which is inhibited in the polar solvent methanol. Consequently, we have re-evaluated the mechanism for early stage photochemistry in the light-driven reduction of Pchlide and propose that I675* represents an excited state species formed in Pchlide-Chlide dimers, possibly an excimer. Contrary to previous reports, we conclude that this excited state species has no direct mechanistic relevance to the POR-catalyzed reduction of Pchlide.

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52419 Ene-Reductase, recombinant, expressed in E. coli, ≥1 U/mg