Bilin (biochemistry)

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Bilirubin, a yellow bilin, is a breakdown product of heme

Bilins, bilanes or bile pigments are biological pigments formed in many organisms as a metabolic product of certain porphyrins. Bilin (also called bilichrome) was named as a bile pigment of mammals, but can also be found in lower vertebrates, invertebrates, as well as red algae, green plants and cyanobacteria. Bilins can range in color from red, orange, yellow or brown to blue or green.

In chemical terms, bilins are linear arrangements of four pyrrole rings (tetrapyrroles). In human metabolism, bilirubin is a breakdown product of heme. A modified bilane is an intermediate in the biosynthesis and uroporphyrinogen III from porphobilinogen (PBG).

Examples of bilins are found in animals, and phycocyanobilin, the chromophore of the photosynthetic pigment phycocyanin in algae and plants. In plants, bilins also serve as the photopigments of the photoreceptor protein phytochrome. An example of an invertebrate bilin is micromatabilin, which is responsible for the green color of the Green Huntsman Spider, Micrommata virescens.[1]

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  1. ^ Oxford, G.S. & Gillespie, R.G. (1998). Evolution and Ecology of Spider Coloration. Annual Review of Entomology 43:619-643. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.43.1.619 PMID 15012400

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