Gruber, Ansgar


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A novel type of light-harvesting antenna protein of red algal origin in algae with secondary plastids

2013, Sturm, Sabine, Engelken, Johannes, Gruber, Ansgar, Vugrinec, Sascha, Kroth, Peter G., Adamska, Iwona, Lavaud, Johann

Background: Light, the driving force of photosynthesis, can be harmful when present in excess; therefore, any light harvesting system requires photoprotection. Members of the extended light-harvesting complex (LHC) protein superfamily are involved in light harvesting as well as in photoprotection and are found in the red and green plant lineages, with a complex distribution pattern of subfamilies in the different algal lineages.

Results: Here, we demonstrate that the recently discovered "red lineage chlorophyll a/b-binding-like proteins" (RedCAPs) form a monophyletic family within this protein superfamily. The occurrence of RedCAPs was found to be restricted to the red algal lineage, including red algae (with primary plastids) as well as cryptophytes, haptophytes and heterokontophytes (with secondary plastids of red algal origin). Expression of a full-length RedCAP:GFP fusion construct in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum confirmed the predicted plastid localisation of RedCAPs. Furthermore, we observed that similarly to the fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c-binding light-harvesting antenna proteins also RedCAP transcripts in diatoms were regulated in a diurnal way at standard light conditions and strongly repressed at high light intensities.

Conclusions: The absence of RedCAPs from the green lineage implies that RedCAPs evolved in the red lineage after separation from the the green lineage. During the evolution of secondary plastids, RedCAP genes therefore must have been transferred from the nucleus of the endocytobiotic alga to the nucleus of the host cell, a process that involved complementation with pre-sequences allowing import of the gene product into the secondary plastid bound by four membranes. Based on light-dependent transcription and on localisation data, we propose that RedCAPs might participate in the light (intensity and quality)-dependent structural or functional reorganisation of the light-harvesting antennae of the photosystems upon dark to light shifts as regularly experienced by diatoms in nature. Remarkably, in plastids of the red lineage as well as in green lineage plastids, the phycobilisome based cyanobacterial light harvesting system has been replaced by light harvesting systems that are based on members of the extended LHC protein superfamily, either for one of the photosystems (PS I of red algae) or for both (diatoms). In their proposed function, the RedCAP protein family may thus have played a role in the evolutionary structural remodelling of light-harvesting antennae in the red lineage.

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Diatom plastids depend on nucleotide import from the cytosol

2009, Ast, Michelle, Gruber, Ansgar, Schmitz-Esser, Stephan, Neuhaus, Horst Ekkehard, Kroth, Peter G., Horn, Matthias, Haferkamp, Ilka

Diatoms are ecologically important algae that acquired their plastids by secondary endosymbiosis, resulting in a more complex cell structure and an altered distribution of metabolic pathways when compared with organisms with primary plastids. Diatom plastids are surrounded by 4 membranes; the outermost membrane is continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum. Genome analyses suggest that nucleotide biosynthesis is, in contrast to higher plants, not located in the plastid, but in the cytosol. As a consequence, nucleotides have to be imported into the organelle. However, the mechanism of nucleotide entry into the complex plastid is unknown. We identified a high number of putative nucleotide transporters (NTTs) in the diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum and characterized the first 2 isoforms (NTT1 and NTT2). GFP-based localization studies revealed that both investigated NTTs are targeted to the plastid membranes, and that NTT1 most likely enters the innermost plastid envelope via the stroma. Heterologously expressed NTT1 acts as a proton-dependent adenine nucleotide importer, whereas NTT2 facilitates the counter exchange of (deoxy-)nucleoside triphosphates. Therefore, these transporters functionally resemble NTTs from obligate intracellular bacteria with an impaired nucleotide metabolism rather than ATP/ADP exchanging NTTs from primary plastids. We suggest that diatoms harbor a specifically-adapted nucleotide transport system and that NTTs are the key players in nucleotide supply to the complex plastid.