Evolution of Light-Independent Protochlorophyllide Oxidoreductase

Protoplasma. 2019 Mar;256(2):293-312. doi: 10.1007/s00709-018-1317-y. Epub 2018 Oct 6.


The nonhomologous enzymes, the light-independent protochlorophyllide reductase (DPOR) and the light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (LPOR), catalyze the reduction of protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) to chlorophyllide (Chlide) in the penultimate step of biosynthesis of chlorophyll (Chl) required for photosynthetic light absorption and energy conversion. The two enzymes differ with respect to the requirement of light for catalysis and oxygen sensitivity. DPOR and LPOR initially evolved in the ancestral prokaryotic genome perhaps at different times. DPOR originated in the anoxygenic environment of the Earth from nitrogenase-like enzyme of methanogenic archaea. Due to the transition from anoxygenic to oxygenic photosynthesis in the prokaryote, the DPOR was mostly inactivated in the daytime by photosynthetic O2 leading to the evolution of oxygen-insensitive LPOR that could function in the light. The primary endosymbiotic event transferred the DPOR and LPOR genes to the eukaryotic phototroph; the DPOR remained in the genome of the ancestor that turned into the plastid, whereas LPOR was transferred to the host nuclear genome. From an evolutionary point of view, several compelling theories that explain the disappearance of DPOR from several species cutting across different phyla are as follows: (i) pressure of the oxygenic environment; (ii) change in the light conditions and temperature; and (iii) lineage-specific gene losses, RNA editing, and nonsynonymous substitution. Certain primary amino acid sequence and the physiochemical properties of the ChlL subunit of DPOR have similarity with that of LPOR suggesting a convergence of these two enzymes in certain evolutionary event. The newly obtained sequence data from different phototrophs will further enhance the width of the phylogenetic information on DPOR.

Keywords: Chlorophyll biosynthesis; Chlorophyllide a reductase; Endosymbiosis; Light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase; Light-independent protochlorophyllide reductase; Nitrogenase; Oxygenic photosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / chemistry*
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*


  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • protochlorophyllide reductase