CpeY is a phycoerythrobilin lyase for cysteine 82 of the phycoerythrin I α-subunit in marine Synechococcus

Lyndsay A. Carrigee, Rania M. Mahmoud, Joseph E. Sanfilippo, Jacob P. Frick, Johann A. Strnat, Jonathan A. Karty, Bo Chen, David M. Kehoe, Wendy M. Schluchter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine Synechococcus are widespread in part because they are efficient at harvesting available light using their complex antenna, or phycobilisome, composed of multiple phycobiliproteins and bilin chromophores. Over 40% of Synechococcus strains are predicted to perform a type of chromatic acclimation that alters the ratio of two chromophores, green-light–absorbing phycoerythrobilin and blue-light–absorbing phycourobilin, to optimize light capture by phycoerythrin in the phycobilisome. Lyases are enzymes which catalyze the addition of bilin chromophores to specific cysteine residues on phycobiliproteins and are involved in chromatic acclimation. CpeY, a candidate lyase in the model strain Synechococcus sp. RS9916, added phycoerythrobilin to cysteine 82 of only the α subunit of phycoerythrin I (CpeA) in the presence or absence of the chaperone-like protein CpeZ in a recombinant protein expression system. These studies demonstrated that recombinant CpeY attaches phycoerythrobilin to as much as 72% of CpeA, making it one of the most efficient phycoerythrin lyases characterized to date. Phycobilisomes from a cpeY mutant showed a near native bilin composition in all light conditions except for a slight replacement of phycoerythrobilin by phycourobilin at CpeA cysteine 82. This demonstrates that CpeY is not involved in any chromatic acclimation-driven chromophore changes and suggests that the chromophore attached at cysteine 82 of CpeA in the cpeY mutant is ligated by an alternative phycoerythrobilin lyase. Although loss of CpeY does not greatly inhibit native phycobilisome assembly in vivo, the highly active recombinant CpeY can be used to generate large amounts of fluorescent CpeA for biotechnological uses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number148215
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilin lyase
  • Chromatic acclimation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Phycobilisome
  • Phycoerythrobilin
  • Post-translational modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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