Evolutionary origins and functions of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in marine diatoms.
ABSTRACT: Carotenoids are produced by all photosynthetic organisms, where they play essential roles in light harvesting and photoprotection. The carotenoid biosynthetic pathway of diatoms is largely unstudied, but is of particular interest because these organisms have a very different evolutionary history with respect to the Plantae and are thought to be derived from an ancient secondary endosymbiosis between heterotrophic and autotrophic eukaryotes. Furthermore, diatoms have an additional xanthophyll-based cycle for dissipating excess light energy with respect to green algae and higher plants. To explore the origins and functions of the carotenoid pathway in diatoms we searched for genes encoding pathway components in the recently completed genome sequences of two marine diatoms. Consistent with the supplemental xanthophyll cycle in diatoms, we found more copies of the genes encoding violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) and zeaxanthin epoxidase (ZEP) enzymes compared with other photosynthetic eukaryotes. However, the similarity of these enzymes with those of higher plants indicates that they had very probably diversified before the secondary endosymbiosis had occurred, implying that VDE and ZEP represent early eukaryotic innovations in the Plantae. Consequently, the diatom chromist lineage likely obtained all paralogues of ZEP and VDE genes during the process of secondary endosymbiosis by gene transfer from the nucleus of the algal endosymbiont to the host nucleus. Furthermore, the presence of a ZEP gene in Tetrahymena thermophila provides the first evidence for a secondary plastid gene encoded in a heterotrophic ciliate, providing support for the chromalveolate hypothesis. Protein domain structures and expression analyses in the pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum indicate diverse roles for the different ZEP and VDE isoforms and demonstrate that they are differentially regulated by light. These studies therefore reveal the ancient origins of several components of the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway in photosynthetic eukaryotes and provide information about how they have diversified and acquired new functions in the diatoms.
Project description:Microalgae represent a promising resource for the production of beneficial natural compounds due to their richness in secondary metabolites and easy cultivation. Carotenoids feature among distinctive compounds of many microalgae, including diatoms, which owe their golden color to the xanthophyll fucoxanthin. Carotenoids have antioxidant, anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties, and there is a considerable market demand for these compounds. Here, with the aim to increase the carotenoid content in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, we exploited genetic transformation to overexpress genes involved in the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway. We produced transgenic lines over-expressing simultaneously one, two or three carotenoid biosynthetic genes, and evaluated changes in pigment content with high-performance liquid chromatography. Two triple transformants over-expressing the genes Violaxanthin de-epoxidase (Vde), Vde-related (Vdr) and Zeaxanthin epoxidase 3 (Zep3) showed an accumulation of carotenoids, with an increase in the fucoxanthin content up to four fold. Vde, Vdr and Zep3 mRNA and protein levels in the triple transformants were coherently increased. The exact role of these enzymes in the diatom carotenoid biosynthetic pathway is not completely elucidated nevertheless our strategy successfully modulated the carotenoid metabolism leading to an accumulation of valuable compounds, leading the way toward improved utilization of microalgae in the field of antioxidants.
Project description:The xanthophyll cycle (Xc), which involves violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) and the zeaxanthin epoxidase (ZEP), is one of the most rapid and efficient responses of plant and algae to high irradiance. High light intensity can activate VDE to convert violaxanthin (Vx) to zeaxanthin (Zx) via antheraxanthin (Ax). However, it remains unclear whether VDE remains active under low light or dark conditions when there is no significant accumulation of Ax and Zx, and if so, how the ?pH required for activation of VDE is built. In this study, we used salicylaldoxime (SA) to inhibit ZEP activity in the intertidal macro-algae Ulva sp. (Ulvales, Chlorophyta) and then characterized VDE under low light and dark conditions with various metabolic inhibitors. With inhibition of ZEP by SA, VDE remained active under low light and dark conditions, as indicated by large accumulations of Ax and Zx at the expense of Vx. When PSII-mediated linear electron transport systems were completely inhibited by SA and DCMU, alternative electron transport systems (i.e., cyclic electron transport and chlororespiration) could maintain VDE activity. Furthermore, accumulations of Ax and Zx decreased significantly when SA, DCMU, or DBMIB together with an inhibitor of chlororespiration (i.e., propyl gallate (PG)) were applied to Ulva sp. This result suggests that chlororespiration not only participates in the build-up of the necessary ?pH, but that it also possibly influences VDE activity indirectly by diminishing the oxygen level in the chloroplast.
Project description:Plants, algae and cyanobacteria need to regulate photosynthetic light harvesting in response to the constantly changing light environment. Rapid adjustments are required to maintain fitness because of a trade-off between efficient solar energy conversion and photoprotection. The xanthophyll cycle, in which the carotenoid pigment violaxanthin is reversibly converted into zeaxanthin, is ubiquitous among green algae and plants and is necessary for the regulation of light harvesting, protection from oxidative stress and adaptation to different light conditions(1,2). Violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) is the key enzyme responsible for zeaxanthin synthesis from violaxanthin under excess light. Here we show that the Chlorophycean VDE (CVDE) gene from the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii encodes an atypical VDE. This protein is not homologous to the VDE found in plants and is instead related to a lycopene cyclase from photosynthetic bacteria(3). Unlike the plant-type VDE that is located in the thylakoid lumen, the Chlamydomonas CVDE protein is located on the stromal side of the thylakoid membrane. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that CVDE evolved from an ancient de-epoxidase that was present in the common ancestor of green algae and plants, providing evidence of unexpected diversity in photoprotection in the green lineage.
Project description:After wheat and rice, potato is the third most important staple food worldwide. A collection of ten tetraploid (Solanum tuberosum) and diploid (S. phureja and S. chacoense) genotypes with contrasting carotenoid content was subjected to molecular characterization with respect to candidate carotenoid loci and metabolic profiling using LC-HRMS. Irrespective of ploidy and taxonomy, tubers of these genotypes fell into three groups: yellow-fleshed, characterized by high levels of epoxy-xanthophylls and xanthophyll esters and by the presence of at least one copy of a dominant allele of the ?-Carotene Hydroxylase 2 (CHY2) gene; white-fleshed, characterized by low carotenoid levels and by the presence of recessive chy2 alleles; and orange-fleshed, characterized by high levels of zeaxanthin but low levels of xanthophyll esters, and homozygosity for a Zeaxanthin Epoxidase (ZEP) recessive allele. Novel CHY2 and ZEP alleles were identified in the collection. Multivariate analysis identified several groups of co-regulated non-polar compounds, and resulted in the grouping of the genotypes according to flesh color, suggesting that extensive cross-talk exists between the carotenoid pathway and other metabolite pathways in tubers. Postharvest traits like tuber dormancy and weight loss during storage showed little correlation with tuber carotenoid content, with the exception of zeaxanthin and its esters. Other tuber metabolites, such as glucose, monogalactosyldiacyglycerol (a glycolipid), or suberin precursors, showed instead significant correlations with both traits.
Project description:Violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) has a critical role in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, which is involved in protecting the photosynthesis apparatus from damage caused by excessive light. Here, a VDE gene in maize, ZmVDE1, was cloned and shown to have functional domains in common with the gramineous VDE protein. Candidate gene association analysis indicated that no polymorphic sites in ZmVDE1 were significant association with any of the examined carotenoid-related traits at P = 0.05 in an association panel containing 155 maize inbred lines. Nucleotide diversity analysis of VDE1 in maize and teosinte indicated that its exon had less genetic variation, consistent with the conserved function of VDE1 in plants. In addition, dramatically reduced nucleotide diversity, fewer haplotypes and a significantly negative parameter deviation for Tajima's D test of ZmVDE1 in maize and teosinte suggested that a potential selective force had acted across the ZmVDE1 locus. We further identified a 4.2 Mb selective sweep with low recombination surrounding the ZmVDE1 locus that resulted in severely reduced nucleotide diversity on chromosome 2. Collectively, natural selection and the conserved domains of ZmVDE1 might show an important role in the xanthophyll cycle of the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway.
Project description:In Plantae, the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle is highly regulated and most of its enzymes have been thoroughly studied. Since diatoms arose as a result of secondary endosymbiosis with one or more Plantae ancestors, their precise evolutionary history is enigmatic and complex resulting in biochemical variations on the original CBB cycle theme. The Rubisco Michaelis constant for CO2 is higher in diatoms than land plants and the nuclear-encoded Rubisco activase in Plantae is replaced by an analogous chloroplast-encoded CbbX (Calvin-Benson-Bassham protein X) in diatoms. In the CBB cycle reduction phase, phosphoglycerate kinase in diatoms is redox-regulated and similar to that in red algae; however, glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) is not redox-regulated, unlike in Plantae. The phosphoribulokinase (PRK)-GAPDH-CP12 complex found in many photosynthetic organisms has not yet been found in diatoms, but a ferredoxin-NADP reductase (FNR)-GAPDH-CP12 complex has been found in one species. In the CBB cycle regeneration phase, sedoheptulose 1,7-bisphosphatase and PRK are not redox-regulated in diatoms, unlike in Plantae. Regulation at the transcriptional level seems to be important in diatoms. CBB cycle enzyme properties appear to be variable among diatoms, but this view relies on results from a few model species: a greater range of diatoms need to be studied to test this.This article is part of the themed issue 'The peculiar carbon metabolism in diatoms'.
Project description:Diatoms are a major group of primary producers ubiquitous in all aquatic ecosystems. To protect themselves from photooxidative damage in a fluctuating light climate potentially punctuated with regular excess light exposures, diatoms have developed several photoprotective mechanisms. The xanthophyll cycle (XC) dependent non-photochemical chlorophyll fluorescence quenching (NPQ) is one of the most important photoprotective processes that rapidly regulate photosynthesis in diatoms. NPQ depends on the conversion of diadinoxanthin (DD) into diatoxanthin (DT) by the violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE), also called DD de-epoxidase (DDE). To study the role of DDE in controlling NPQ, we generated transformants of P. tricornutum in which the gene (Vde/Dde) encoding for DDE was silenced. RNA interference was induced by genetic transformation of the cells with plasmids containing either short (198 bp) or long (523 bp) antisense (AS) fragments or, alternatively, with a plasmid mediating the expression of a self-complementary hairpin-like construct (inverted repeat, IR). The silencing approaches generated diatom transformants with a phenotype clearly distinguishable from wildtype (WT) cells, i.e. a lower degree as well as slower kinetics of both DD de-epoxidation and NPQ induction. Real-time PCR based quantification of Dde transcripts revealed differences in transcript levels between AS transformants and WT cells but also between AS and IR transformants, suggesting the possible presence of two different gene silencing mediating mechanisms. This was confirmed by the differential effect of the light intensity on the respective silencing efficiency of both types of transformants. The characterization of the transformants strengthened some of the specific features of the XC and NPQ and confirmed the most recent mechanistic model of the DT/NPQ relationship in diatoms.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria of protists, invertebrates and vertebrates, but have not been found to date in photosynthetic eukaryotes (algae and embryophytes). Genes of putative chlamydial origin, however, are present in significant numbers in sequenced genomes of photosynthetic eukaryotes. It has been suggested that such genes were acquired by an ancient horizontal gene transfer from Chlamydiae to the ancestor of photosynthetic eukaryotes. To further test this hypothesis, an extensive search for proteins of chlamydial origin was performed using several recently sequenced algal genomes and EST databases, and the proteins subjected to phylogenetic analyses. RESULTS: A total of 39 proteins of chlamydial origin were retrieved from the photosynthetic eukaryotes analyzed and their identity verified through phylogenetic analyses. The distribution of the chlamydial proteins among four groups of photosynthetic eukaryotes (Viridiplantae, Rhodoplantae, Glaucoplantae, Bacillariophyta) was complex suggesting multiple acquisitions and losses. Evidence is presented that all except one of the chlamydial genes originated from an ancient endosymbiosis of a chlamydial bacterium into the ancestor of the Plantae before their divergence into Viridiplantae, Rhodoplantae and Glaucoplantae, i.e. more than 1.1 BYA. The chlamydial proteins subsequently spread through secondary plastid endosymbioses to other eukaryotes. Of 20 chlamydial proteins recovered from the genomes of two Bacillariophyta, 10 were of rhodoplant, and 10 of viridiplant origin suggesting that they were acquired by two different secondary endosymbioses. Phylogenetic analyses of concatenated sequences demonstrated that the viridiplant secondary endosymbiosis likely occurred before the divergence of Chlorophyta and Streptophyta. CONCLUSION: We identified 39 proteins of chlamydial origin in photosynthetic eukaryotes signaling an ancient invasion of the ancestor of the Plantae by a chlamydial bacterium accompanied by horizontal gene transfer. Subsequently, chlamydial proteins spread through secondary endosymbioses to other eukaryotes. We conclude that intracellular chlamydiae likely persisted throughout the early history of the Plantae donating genes to their hosts that replaced their cyanobacterial/plastid homologs thus shaping early algal/plant evolution before they eventually vanished.
Project description:Plants are often exposed to saturating light conditions, which can lead to oxidative stress. The carotenoid zeaxanthin, synthesized from violaxanthin by Violaxanthin De-Epoxidase (VDE) plays a major role in the protection from excess illumination. VDE activation is triggered by a pH reduction in the thylakoids lumen occurring under saturating light. In this work the mechanism of the VDE activation was investigated on a molecular level using multi conformer continuum electrostatic calculations, site directed mutagenesis and molecular dynamics. The pK(a) values of residues of the inactive VDE were determined to identify target residues that could be implicated in the activation. Five such target residues were investigated closer by site directed mutagenesis, whereas variants in four residues (D98, D117, H168 and D206) caused a reduction in enzymatic activity indicating a role in the activation of VDE while D86 mutants did not show any alteration. The analysis of the VDE sequence showed that the four putative activation residues are all conserved in plants but not in diatoms, explaining why VDE in these algae is already activated at higher pH. Molecular dynamics showed that the VDE structure was coherent at pH 7 with a low amount of water penetrating the hydrophobic barrel. Simulations carried out with the candidate residues locked into their protonated state showed instead an increased amount of water penetrating the barrel and the rupture of the H121-Y214 hydrogen bond at the end of the barrel, which is essential for VDE activation. These results suggest that VDE activation relies on a robust and redundant network, in which the four residues identified in this study play a major role.
Project description:To investigate the protective mechanism of violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) zeaxanthin in Cerasus humilis under drought and salt-stress conditions, we cloned the entire cDNA sequence of ChVDE from C. humilis and generated ChVDE-overexpression (OE) and ChVDE-complementation (CE) Arabidopsis plants. The open reading frame of ChVDE contained 1,446 bp nucleotides and encoded 481 amino acids. The ChVDE showed the highest similarity with those of Camellia sinensis and Citrus sinensis. Subcellular localization analysis showed that ChVDE was located in the chloroplasts. OE plants showed stronger root growth and higher levels of total chlorophyll as compared to WT and VDE mutant (npq1-2) plants. Moreover, the relative de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle pigments (A?+?Z)/(V?+?A+Z) was higher in OE plants than in the controls. OE plants had enhanced photosynthetic rates, respiration rates, and transpiration rates compared with the WT or npq1-2 plants after drought or salt treatment. Collectively, our results demonstrate that ChVDE plays a positive role in both drought and salt tolerance.