An improved method for the preparation of various species of porphobilinogen stereospecifically labelled with 3H in the side chains (at C-6, C-7 and C-8) is described. These labelled samples were used to study the mechanism and stereochemistry of anaerobic as well as aerobic coproporphyrinogen III oxidase of light-grown Rhodopseudomonas spheroides. It was shown that both the oxidases catalyse the conversion of the propionate side chains of coproporphyrinogen III into the vinyl groups of protoporphyrinogen IX, (formula; see text) with the labilization of the pro-S-hydrogen atom at the beta-position. These results are similar to those previously recorded for such conversions in animal and plant systems. In the light of the cumulative information available to date, mechanisms for the conversion, (formula; see text) are discussed and doubt is cast on the participation of hydroxylated intermediates in the process.

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