The magnesium-protoporphyrin IX (oxidative) cyclase system. Studies on the mechanism and specificity of the reaction sequence.

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Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl ester cyclase activity was assayed in isolated developing cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. var. Beit Alpha) chloroplasts [Chereskin, Wong & Castelfranco (1982) Plant Physiol. 70, 987-993]. The presence of both 6- and 7-methyl esterase activities was detected, which permitted the use of diester porphyrins in a substrate-specificity study. It was found that: (1) the 6-methyl acrylate derivative of Mg-protoporphyrin monomethyl ester was inactive as a substrate for cyclization; (2) only one of the two enantiomers of 6-beta-hydroxy-Mg-protoporphyrin dimethyl ester had detectable activity as a substrate for the cyclase; (3) the 2-vinyl-4-ethyl-6-beta-oxopropionate derivatives of Mg-protoporphyrin mono- or di-methyl ester were approx. 4 times more active as substrates for cyclization than the corresponding divinyl forms; (4) at the level of Mg-protoporphyrin there was no difference in cyclase activity between the 4-vinyl and 4-ethyl substrates; (5) reduction of the side chain of Mg-protoporphyrin in the 2-position from a vinyl to an ethyl resulted in a partial loss of cyclase activity. This work suggests that the original scheme for cyclization proposed by Granick [(1950) Harvey Lect. 44, 220-245] should now be modified by the omission of the 6-methyl acrylate derivative of Mg-protoporphyrin monomethyl ester and the introduction of stereo-specificity at the level of the hydroxylated intermediate.

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The Biochemical journal

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