Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 221-242

First online:

The common origins of the pigments of life—early steps of chlorophyll biosynthesis

  • Yael J. AvissarAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Rhode Island College
  • , Patricia A. MobergAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Community College of Rhode Island

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The complex pathway of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis can be dissected into five sections: the pathways that produce 5-aminolevulinate (the C-4 and the C-5 pathways), the steps that transform ALA to uroporphyrinogen III, which are ubiquitous in the biosynthesis of all tetrapyrroles, and the three branches producing specialized end products. These end products include corrins and siroheme, chlorophylls and hemes and linear tetrapyrroles. These branches have been subjects of recent reviews. This review concentrates on the early steps leading up to uroporphyrinogen III formation which have been investigated intensively in recent years in animals, in plants, and in a wide range of bacteria.

Key words

C-4 pathway C-5 pathway 5-aminolevulinate porphobilinogen hydroxymethylbilane uroporphyrinogen III chlorophyll heme pigment porphyrin tetrapyrrole