ISSN 10214437, Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, 2012, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 1–13. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2012.
Original Russian Text © N.P. Yurina, O.V. Osipenkova, M.S. Odintsova, 2012, published in Fiziologiya Rastenii, 2012, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 3–16.
Tetrapyrrols are widespread compounds. They play
a substantial role in many biological processes, includ
ing photosynthesis and respiration.
Such tetrapyrrols as chlorophyll (Chl) and heme
are cofactors of proteins participating in a great num
ber of vitally important functions in the cell. As pros
tetic groups, tetrapyrrols are the components of some
important enzymes. After binding to proteins tetrapy
rrols acquir some new chemical properties, including
a capacity for light absorption, electron transfer, and
oxygen binding. These properties are used by the cells
of all living organisms. The same tetrapyrrol properties
could also lead to a strong photooxidative stress and,
under certain conditions, to the cell death because
unregulated excitation by light could lead to genera
tion of free radicals and ROS, singlet oxygen primarily
[1, 2]. About 2% of proteins encoded by the
genome bind tetrapyrrols, which indicates
the important role of these compounds in plant
metabolism. At present, the enzymatic stages of tet
rapyrrol biosynthesis are well studied. In higher plants,
the genes of essentially all these enzymes are identi
fied. All they are encoded by the nuclear genome .
The regulation of tetrapyrrol metabolism and their
transport in the cells are less studied. It is also sup
posed that tetrapyrrols are signal molecules coordinat
ing functioning of organelles and nucleus. The path
way of tetrapyrrol biosynthesis are described in some
comprehensive reviews [1–5], and possible involve
ment of these compounds in signal transmission from
plastid to nucleus [2, 6–9].
This review summarizes current notion concerning
biosynthesis of tetrapyrrols and its regulation in the
higher plant cells. Especial attention is paid to the key
enzymes of tetrapyrrol biosynthesis, glutamyltRNA
reductase (GluTR) and Mgchelatase (MgCh). New
data about intracellular and intraplastid localization of
these enzymes are presented. Recent available data
(2008–2011) concerning tetrapyrrol involvement in
the signal transmission from plastid to nucleus are also
BIOSYNTHESIS OF TETRAPYRROLS
AND ITS REGULATION
Higher plants contain four classes of tetrapyrrols:
chlorophyll, heme, syroheme, and phytochromobilin.
Chl is Mgporphyrin; its molecule comprises tetrapy
rrol structure of porphin including four pyrrol rings
connected with methine bridges (–CH=). Pyrrol rings
are positioned as a macrocyclic structure, where four
central nitrogen atoms are connected with
with coordination bonds, producing stable complex.
Among the great number of various pigments, only
can transform light
energy. All other pigments are involved in light absorp
tion and energy migration.
Higher Plant Tetrapyrrols: Their Biosynthesis
and Its Regulation, Tetrapyrrol Role in Transmission
of Retrograde Signals
N. P. Yurina, O. V. Osipenkova, and M. S. Odintsova
Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii pr. 33, 119071 Moscow, Russia;
fax: 7 (495) 9542732; email: NYurina@inbi.ras.ru
Received March 22, 2011
—This review summarizes the current knowledge of the biosynthesis of tetrapyrroles in plants, key
stages of this process regulation, as well as the available data on the participation of these compounds in the
induction and transmission of retrograde signals. Possible sources of retrograde signals are considered. Par
ticular attention is paid to the analysis of data on the signaling molecules that induce retrograde regulation.
The interaction of retrograde signals with other cells signaling pathways is emphasized.
: higher plants, plastids, tetrapyrrols, biosynthesis, signaling.
: ALA—aminolevulenic acid; Chl—chlorophyll;
Chd—chlorophyllide; CPO—coproporphyrinogen III oxidase;
FeCh—Fechelatase; GluTR—glutamyltRNA reductase;
GluTS—glutamyltRNA synthetase; MgCh—Mgchelatase;
MgProtoIX—Mgprotoporphyrin IX; MgProtoIXME—
methyl ester of Mgprotoporphyrin IX; NF—norflurazon;
PPO—protoporphyrinogen IX oxidase; Pchd—protochlophyl
lide; PhCB—phytochromobilin; ProtoIX—protoporphyrin IX.