Carotenoid synthesis is based on the analysis of the phenotype of several mutant strains of tomato lacking carotenoid synthetic genes. Carotenoids are tetraterpenes derived through the condensation of the five-carbon (C5) universal isoprenoid precursors isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). A recently developed concept that could explain the role of the poly-cis pathway in carotenoid synthesis is that the intermediates of this pathway have additional physiological roles that extend beyond serving as precursors of lycopene. This concept is based on the analysis of the phenotype of several mutant strains of tomato lacking carotenoid synthetic genes. The feedback regulation of early carotenoid synthetic genes in response to a block in upstream metabolism represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of the mechanism and regulation of carotenoid synthesis and of metabolic regulation in general. The molecular details of a signaling pathway that regulates carotenogenesis in response to the levels of carotenoid precursors are still unclear.
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