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Karg, Cornelia A.; Wang, Shuaijun; Al Danaf, Nader; Pemberton, Ryan P.; Bernard, Denzil; Kretschmer, Maibritt; Schneider, Sabine; Zisis, Themistoklis; Vollmar, Angelika M.; Lamb, Don C.; Zahler, Stefan and Moser, Simone (2021): Tetrapyrrolic Pigments from Heme- and Chlorophyll Breakdown are Actin-Targeting Compounds. In: Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, Vol. 60, No. 41: pp. 22578-22584

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Chlorophyll and heme are among the pigments of life, tetrapyrrolic structures, without which life on Earth would not be possible. Their catabolites, the phyllobilins and the bilins, respectively, share not only structural features, but also a similar story: Long considered waste products of detoxification processes, important bioactivities for both classes have now been demonstrated. For phyllobilins, however, research on physiological roles is sparse. Here, we introduce actin, the major component of the cytoskeleton, as the first discovered target of phyllobilins and as a novel target of bilins. We demonstrate the inhibition of actin dynamics in vitro and effects on actin and related processes in cancer cells. A direct interaction with G-actin is shown by in silico studies and confirmed by affinity chromatography. Our findings open a new chapter in bioactivities of tetrapyrroles-especially phyllobilins-for which they form the basis for broad implications in plant science, ecology, and physiology.

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