Transfer RNA Involvement in Chlorophyll Biosynthesis

  • Gary P. O’Neill
  • Dieter Jahn
  • Dieter Söll
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 17)


Porphyrin-containing molecules, such as hemes and chlorophylls, are key components of respiratory and photosynthetic metabolism. The tetrapyrrole rings of these molecules are formed via a branched biosynthetic pathway from the condensation of the important five-carbon intermediate 5-aminolevulinic acid (δ-aminolevulinic acid, ALA). The central role of ALA in porphyrin biosynthesis is underscored by the observation that it is a major point for regulation of heme and chlorophyll synthesis in prokaryotes, yeast, algae, plants, and in avian and mammalian cells (Beale and Weinstein, 1990; Jordan, 1990; Labbe-Bois and Labbe, 1990). The biosynthesis of ALA has recently attracted considerable research interest because of the discovery, initially made in plants, that one pathway for its biosynthesis requires an unusual involvement of a transfer RNA (tRNA). In this review we shall focus on various aspects of the required tRNA.(e.g., its characterization, role in the pathway, regulation, and involvement in other metabolic processes), and the enzymes involved in this tRNA-dependent formation of ALA. Most of the progress in this area has involved plant experimental systems; however, it has become increasingly apparent in the last year that the tRNA-dependent formation of ALA is also widely distributed among the eubacterial and archaebacterial kingdoms. Since the enzymes and the mechanisms involved in the tRNA-dependent formation of ALA appear to be remarkably similar in plants and bacteria, we shall also discuss the recent rapid progress made in several bacterial systems. Other reviews have dealt with the development of this research area from a historical perspective and in relation to the overall process of porphyrin biosynthesis (Beale, 1990; Beale and Weinstein, 1990; Castelfranco and Beale, 1983; Jordan, 1990; Kannangara, 1991; O’Neill and Soil, 1990a; von Wettstein, 1991).


Chloroplast Genome Aminolevulinic Acid Chlorophyll Biosynthesis Euglena Gracilis Barley Chloroplast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



δ-aminolevulinic acid




glutamyl tRNA synthetase


glutamyl tRNA reductase


glutamate 1 semialdehyde


7-keto-8-aminopelargonic acid


open reading frame


pyridoxamine 5’-phosphate


pyridoxal 5’-phosphate


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary P. O’Neill
    • 1
  • Dieter Jahn
    • 1
  • Dieter Söll
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biophysics and BiochemistryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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