Gruber, Ansgar

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The intracellular distribution of inorganic carbon fixing enzymes does not support the presence of a C4 pathway in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

2018-08, Ewe, Daniela, Tachibana, Masaaki, Kikutani, Sae, Gruber, Ansgar, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Konert, Grzegorz, Kaplan, Aaron, Matsuda, Yusuke, Kroth, Peter G.

Diatoms are unicellular algae and important primary producers. The process of carbon fixation in diatoms is very efficient even though the availability of dissolved CO2 in sea water is very low. The operation of a carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM) also makes the more abundant bicarbonate accessible for photosynthetic carbon fixation. Diatoms possess carbonic anhydrases as well as metabolic enzymes potentially involved in C4 pathways; however, the question as to whether a C4 pathway plays a general role in diatoms is not yet solved. While genome analyses indicate that the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum possesses all the enzymes required to operate a C4 pathway, silencing of the pyruvate orthophosphate dikinase (PPDK) in a genetically transformed cell line does not lead to reduced photosynthetic carbon fixation. In this study, we have determined the intracellular location of all enzymes potentially involved in C4-like carbon fixing pathways in P. tricornutum by expression of the respective proteins fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP), followed by fluorescence microscopy. Furthermore, we compared the results to known pathways and locations of enzymes in higher plants performing C3 or C4 photosynthesis. This approach revealed that the intracellular distribution of the investigated enzymes is quite different from the one observed in higher plants. In particular, the apparent lack of a plastidic decarboxylase in P. tricornutum indicates that this diatom does not perform a C4-like CCM.


Rapid induction of GFP expression by the nitrate reductase promoter in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

2016-08-25, Chu, Lili, Ewe, Daniela, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Kroth, Peter G., Gruber, Ansgar

An essential prerequisite for a controlled transgene expression is the choice of a suitable promoter. In the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, the most commonly used promoters for trans-gene expression are the light dependent lhcf1 promoters (derived from two endogenous genes encoding fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c binding proteins) and the nitrate dependent nr promoter (derived from the endogenous nitrate reductase gene). In this study, we investigated the time dependent expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter under control of the nitrate reductase promoter in independently genetically transformed P. tricornutum cell lines following induction of expression by change of the nitrogen source in the medium via flow cytometry, microscopy and western blotting. In all investigated cell lines, GFP fluorescence started to increase 1 h after change of the medium, the fastest increase rates were observed between 2 and 3 h. Fluorescence continued to increase slightly for up to 7 h even after transfer of the cells to ammonium medium. The subsequent decrease of GFP fluorescence was much slower than the increase, probably due to the stability of GFP. The investigation of several cell lines transformed with nr based constructs revealed that, also in the absence of nitrate, the promoter may show residual activity. Furthermore, we observed a strong variation of gene expression between independent cell lines, emphasising the importance of a thorough characterisation of genetically modified cell lines and their individual expression patterns.


The role of C4 metabolism in the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

2013-01, Haimovich-Dayan, Maya, Garfinkel, Nitsan, Ewe, Daniela, Marcus, Yehouda, Gruber, Ansgar, Wagner, Heiko, Kroth, Peter G., Kaplan, Aaron

Diatoms are important players in the global carbon cycle. Their apparent photosynthetic affinity for ambient CO(2) is much higher than that of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), indicating that a CO(2)-concentrating mechanism (CCM) is functioning. However, the nature of the CCM, a biophysical or a biochemical C(4), remains elusive. Although (14)C labeling experiments and presence of complete sets of genes for C(4) metabolism in two diatoms supported the presence of C(4), other data and predicted localization of the decarboxylating enzymes, away from Rubisco, makes this unlikely. We used RNA-interference to silence the single gene encoding pyruvate-orthophosphate dikinase (PPDK) in Phaeodactylum tricornutum, essential for C(4) metabolism, and examined the photosynthetic characteristics. The mutants possess much lower ppdk transcript and PPDK activity but the photosynthetic K(1/2) (CO(2)) was hardly affected, thus clearly indicating that the C(4) route does not serve the purpose of raising the CO(2) concentration in close proximity of Rubisco in P. tricornutum. The photosynthetic V(max) was slightly reduced in the mutant, possibly reflecting a metabolic constraint that also resulted in a larger lipid accumulation. We propose that the C(4) metabolism does not function in net CO(2) fixation but helps the cells to dissipate excess light energy and in pH homeostasis.