Light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (LPOR) catalyzes the reduction of protochlorophyllide to chlorophyllide, which is a key reaction for angiosperm development. Dark operative light-independent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (DPOR) is the other enzyme able to catalyze this reaction, however, it is not present in angiosperms. LPOR, which evolved later than DPOR, requires light to trigger the reaction. The ancestors of angiosperms lost DPOR genes and duplicated the LPORs, however, the LPOR evolution in angiosperms has not been yet investigated. In the present study, we built a phylogenetic tree using 557 nucleotide sequences of LPORs from both bacteria and plants to uncover the evolution of LPOR. The tree revealed that all modern sequences of LPOR diverged from a single sequence ∼1.36 billion years ago. The LPOR gene was then duplicated at least 10 times in angiosperms, leading to the formation of two or even more LPOR isoforms in multiple species. In the case of Arabidopsis thaliana, AtPORA and AtPORB originated in one duplication event, in contrary to the isoform AtPORC, which diverged first. We performed biochemical characterization of these isoforms in vitro, revealing differences in the lipid-driven properties. The results prone us to hypothesize that duplication events of LPOR gave rise to the isoforms having different lipid-driven activity, which may predispose them for functioning in different locations in plastids. Moreover, we showed that LPOR from Synechocystis operated in the lipid-independent manner, revealing differences between bacterial and plant LPORs. Based on the presented results, we propose a novel classification of LPOR enzymes based on their biochemical properties and phylogenetic relationships.

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