The Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 genome encodes three genes, denoted cpcS-I, cpcU, cpcV, with sequence similarity to cpeS. CpcS-I copurified with His(6)-tagged (HT) CpcU as a heterodimer, CpcSU. When CpcSU was assayed for bilin lyase activity in vitro with phycocyanobilin (PCB) and apophycocyanin, the reaction product had an absorbance maximum of 622 nm and was highly fluorescent (lambda(max) = 643 nm). In control reactions with PCB and apophycocyanin, the products had absorption maxima at 635 nm and very low fluorescence yields, indicating they contained the more oxidized mesobiliverdin (Arciero, D. M., Bryant, D. A., and Glazer, A. N. (1988) J. Biol. Chem. 263, 18343-18349). Tryptic peptide mapping showed that the CpcSU-dependent reaction product had one major PCB-containing peptide that contained the PCB binding site Cys-82. The CpcSU lyase was also tested with recombinant apoHT-allophycocyanin (aporHT-AP) and PCB in vitro. AporHT-AP formed an ApcA/ApcB heterodimer with an apparent mass of approximately 27 kDa. When aporHT-AP was incubated with PCB and CpcSU, the product had an absorbance maximum of 614 nm and a fluorescence emission maximum at 636 nm, the expected maxima for monomeric holo-AP. When no enzyme or CpcS-I or CpcU was added alone, the products had absorbance maxima between 645 and 647 nm and were not fluorescent. When these reaction products were analyzed by gel electrophoresis and zinc-enhanced fluorescence emission, only the reaction products from CpcSU had PCB attached to both AP subunits. Therefore, CpcSU is the bilin lyase-responsible for attachment of PCB to Cys-82 of CpcB and Cys-81 of ApcA and ApcB.