Research Article

Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 35-43

First online:

A soybean coproporphyrinogen oxidase gene is highly expressed in root nodules

  • Ole MadsenAffiliated withLaboratory of Gene Expression, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus
  • , Lene SandalAffiliated withLaboratory of Gene Expression, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus
  • , Niels N. SandalAffiliated withLaboratory of Gene Expression, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus
  • , Kjeld A. MarckerAffiliated withLaboratory of Gene Expression, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus

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Abstract

In plants the enzyme coproporphyrinogen oxidase catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of coproporphyrinogen III to protoporphyrinogen IX in the heme and chlorophyll biosynthesis pathway(s).

We have isolated a soybean coproporphyrinogen oxidase cDNA from a cDNA library and determined the primary structure of the corresponding gene. The coproporphyrinogen oxidase gene encodes a polypeptide with a predicted molecular mass of 43 kDa. The derived amino acid sequence shows 50% similarity to the corresponding yeast amino acid sequence. The main difference is an extension of 67 amino acids at the N-terminus of the soybean polypeptide which may function as a transit peptide.

A full-length coproporphyrinogen oxidase cDNA clone complements a yeast mutant deleted of the coproporphyrinogen oxidase gene, thus demonstrating the function of the soybean protein.

The soybean coproporphyrinogen oxidase gene is highly expressed in nodules at the stage where several late nodulins including leghemoglobin appear. The coproporphyrinogen oxidase mRNA is also detectable in leaves but at a lower level than in nodules while no mRNA is detectable in roots.

The high level of coproporphyrinogen oxidase mRNA in soybean nodules implies that the plant increases heme production in the nodules to meet the demand for additional heme required for hemoprotein formation.

Key words

coproporphyrinogen oxidase heme biosynthesis root nodule soybean symbiosis