The coproporphyrin dependent heme biosynthesis pathway is almost exclusively utilized by Gram-positive bacteria. This fact makes it a worthwhile topic for basic research, since a fundamental understanding of a metabolic pathway is necessary to translate the focus towards medical biotechnology, which is very relevant in this specific case, considering the need for new antibiotic targets to counteract the pathogenicity of Gram-positive superbugs. Over the years a lot of structural data on the set of enzymes acting in Gram-positive heme biosynthesis has accumulated in the Protein Database - One major challenge is to filter and analyze all available structural information in sufficient detail in order to be helpful and to draw conclusions. Here the authors give a holistic overview of structural information on enzymes involved in the coproporphyrin dependent heme biosynthesis pathway. There are many aspects to be extracted from experimentally determined structures regarding the reaction mechanisms, where the smallest variation of the position of an amino acid residue might be important, but also on a larger level regarding protein-protein interactions, where the focus has to be on surface characteristics and subunit (secondary) structural elements and oligomerization. This review delivers a status quo, highlights still missing information, and formulates future research endeavors in order to better understand prokaryotic heme biosynthesis.

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