Turning green to gold

Biliverdin is reduced to the potent antioxidant bilirubin in mammals and other vertebrates. The X-ray crystal structures of two biliverdin reductases, with different isomer specificities, show how substrate and cofactor bind to the enzymes and provide new insights into the mechanism of the reduction.

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Figure 1: Main steps in the biosynthesis of bilirubin.
Figure 2: Ring opening of heme to give four isomeric biliverdins (IXα, IXβ, IXγ and IXδ) and reduction of the IXα and IXβ isomers to the corresponding bilirubins.
Figure 3
Figure 4: A proposed mechanism for enzymic reduction of biliverdins.

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McDonagh, A. Turning green to gold. Nat Struct Mol Biol 8, 198–200 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/84915

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