An Unusual Phycoerythrin from a Marine Cyanobacterium

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Science  06 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4644, pp. 80-83
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4644.80


Phycoerythrin conjugates are reagents for cell sorting and analyses in which the argon-ion laser line at 488 nanometers is used for excitation. Many marine Synechococcus strains contain phycoerythrins with absorption maxima at approximately 490 and 550 nanometers; these maxima indicate the presence of phycourobilin and phycoerythrobilin prosthetic groups in the protein. Phycoerythrins of red algae contain both groups, but those of freshwater and soil cyanobacteria contain only phycoerythrobilin. Phycoerythrin purified from Synechococcus WH8103 has molecular properties typical of red algal phycoerythrins, but its phycourobilin content is higher than that of other phycoerythrins. The protein has absorption maxima at 492 and 543 nanometers and corresponding molar extinction coefficients of 2.78 and 1.14 x 106; it fluoresces maximally at 565 nanometers with a quantum yield of 0.5. Conjugates of Synechococcus WH8103 phycoerythrin could increase the sensitivity of cell analysis techniques to almost twice that possible with other phycoerythrin conjugates.