N-Methyl mesoporphyrin was a powerful inhibitor of protohaem ferro-lyase in vitro, whereas N-ethyl mesoporphyrin and N-methyl coproporphyrin were not and neither was the newly described green pigment produced by giving rats ethylene. This suggests that the size of the substituent at a pyrrole nitrogen and also the number of carboxylic acid side chains of the substituted porphyrin are important for the inhibitory effect. Evidence that N-methyl mesoporphyrin inhibited the enzyme, whereas the ethylene-derived pigment did not, was also obtained in vivo.

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