A fourth and large family of lycopene cyclases was identified in photosynthetic prokaryotes. The first member of this family, encoded by the cruA gene of the green sulfur bacterium Chlorobium tepidum, was identified in a complementation assay with a lycopene-producing strain of Escherichia coli. Orthologs of cruA are found in all available green sulfur bacterial genomes and in all cyanobacterial genomes that lack genes encoding CrtL- or CrtY-type lycopene cyclases. The cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 has two homologs of CruA, denoted CruA and CruP, and both were shown to have lycopene cyclase activity. Although all characterized lycopene cyclases in plants are CrtL-type proteins, genes orthologous to cruP also occur in plant genomes. The CruA- and CruP-type carotenoid cyclases are members of the FixC dehydrogenase superfamily and are distantly related to CrtL- and CrtY-type lycopene cyclases. Identification of these cyclases fills a major gap in the carotenoid biosynthetic pathways of green sulfur bacteria and cyanobacteria.
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