A mechanism for red coloration in vertebrates

Matthew Toomey, Cristiana Marques, Pedro Araújo, Delai Huang, Siqiong Zhong, Yu Liu, Gretchen Schreiner, Connie Myers, Paulo Pereira, Sandra Afonso, Pedro Andrade, Malgorzata Gazda, Ricardo Lopes, Ivan Viegas, Maureen Haynes, Dustin Smith, Yohey Ogawa, Daniel Murphy, Rachel Kopec, David Parichy, Miguel Carneiro & Joseph Corbo
Red coloration is a salient feature of the natural world. Many vertebrates produce red color by converting dietary yellow carotenoids into red ketocarotenoids via an unknown mechanism. Here, we show that two enzymes, cytochrome P450 2J19 (CYP2J19) and 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase 1-like (BDH1L), are sufficient to catalyze this conversion. In birds, both enzymes are expressed at sites of ketocarotenoid biosynthesis (feather follicles and red cone photoreceptors), and genetic evidence implicates these enzymes in yellow/red color variation...
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