Kroth, Peter G.
Mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase contributes to carbon fixation in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum at low inorganic carbon concentrations
2022-08, Yu, Guilan, Nakajima, Kensuke, Gruber, Ansgar, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Schober, Alexander, Lepetit, Bernard, Yohannes, Elizabeth, Matsuda, Yusuke, Kroth, Peter G.
Photosynthetic carbon fixation is often limited by CO2 availability, which led to the evolution of CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs). Some diatoms possess CCMs that employ biochemical fixation of bicarbonate, similar to C4 plants, but it is controversially discussed whether biochemical CCMs are a commonly found in diatoms.
In the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylase (PEPC) is present in two isoforms, PEPC1 in the plastids and PEPC2 in the mitochondria. We used real-time quantitative PCR, western blots, and enzymatic assays to examine PEPC expression and PEPC activities, under low and high concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC).
We generated and analyzed individual knockout cell lines of PEPC1 and PEPC2, as well as a PEPC1/2 double-knockout strain. While we could not detect an altered phenotype in the PEPC1 knockout strains at ambient, low or high DIC concentrations, PEPC2 and the double-knockout strains grown under ambient air or lower DIC availability, showed reduced growth and photosynthetic affinity to DIC, while behaving similarly as WT cells at high DIC concentrations. These mutants furthermore exhibited significantly lower 13C/12C ratios compared to WT.
Our data implies that in P. tricornutum at least parts of the CCM relies on biochemical bicarbonate fixation catalyzed by the mitochondrial PEPC2.
A strategy to complement PtAUREO1a in TALEN knockout strains of Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2019-05, Madhuri, Shvaita, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Serif, Manuel, Lepetit, Bernard, Kroth, Peter G.
The recent availability of genome editing tools like TALEN (Transcription activator-like effector nuclease) and CRISPR/Cas9 (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) for the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum has dramatically increased the options to explore diatom biology via reverse genetics. In order to verify that an observed phenotype indeed is directly related to a specific gene knockout and not due to a secondary effect, complementation of the inactivated gene with the wildtype gene and restoration of the wild type phenotype is an essential tool in molecular biology. So far, no strategy for a complementation method has been published for P. tricornutum. Here we demonstrate, as a proof-of principle, the complementation of P. tricornutum AUREO1a knockout strains previously created by TALEN technology. These strains are deficient in the PtAureo1a gene, which is encoding a blue-light dependent transcription factor. pPTbsr, a modified pPha-T1 vector with an antibiotic resistance cassette against Blasticidin served as a complementation vector. In order to avoid the modification of the complementing gene via the potentially still active TALEN nucleases, we have modified the TALEN binding sites of the complementing PtAureo1a gene using synonymous codons. The altered PtAureo1a gene along with its native promoter and terminator was transformed by particle gun bombardment into PtAUREO1a TALEN knockout strains of P. tricornutum. The integration and the expression of PtAUREO1a was confirmed by PCR and western blotting. Due to random integration within the genome, the expression level of the complemented gene may be variable in different lines. Physiological parameters indicated the successful rescue of the wild type phenotype in several lines that showed a similar PtAUREO1a protein content as wild type cells. Our method provides a rapid and efficient tool to complement knockout lines generated by genome editing approaches in P. tricornutum.
Lhcx proteins provide photoprotection via thermal dissipation of absorbed light in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2019-09-13, Buck, Jochen Mario, Sherman, Jonathan, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Serif, Manuel, Halder, Marc, Henkel, Jan, Falciatore, Angela, Lavaud, Johann, Kroth, Peter G., Lepetit, Bernard
Diatoms possess an impressive capacity for rapidly inducible thermal dissipation of excess absorbed energy (qE), provided by the xanthophyll diatoxanthin and Lhcx proteins. By knocking out the Lhcx1 and Lhcx2 genes individually in Phaeodactylum tricornutum strain 4 and complementing the knockout lines with different Lhcx proteins, multiple mutants with varying qE capacities are obtained, ranging from zero to high values. We demonstrate that qE is entirely dependent on the concerted action of diatoxanthin and Lhcx proteins, with Lhcx1, Lhcx2 and Lhcx3 having similar functions. Moreover, we establish a clear link between Lhcx1/2/3 mediated inducible thermal energy dissipation and a reduction in the functional absorption cross-section of photosystem II. This regulation of the functional absorption cross-section can be tuned by altered Lhcx protein expression in response to environmental conditions. Our results provide a holistic understanding of the rapidly inducible thermal energy dissipation process and its mechanistic implications in diatoms.
Reduced vacuolar β-1,3-glucan synthesis affects carbohydrate metabolism as well as plastid homeostasis and structure in Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2018-05-01, Huang, Weichao, Haferkamp, Ilka, Lepetit, Bernard, Molchanova, Mariia, Hou, Shengwei, Jeblick, Wolfgang, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Kroth, Peter G.
The β-1,3-glucan chrysolaminarin is the main storage polysaccharide of diatoms. In contrast to plants and green algae, diatoms and most other algal groups do not accumulate storage polysaccharides in their plastids. The diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum possesses only a single gene encoding a putative β-1,3-glucan synthase (PtBGS). Here, we characterize this enzyme by expressing GFP fusion proteins in P. tricornutum and by creating and investigating corresponding gene silencing mutants. We demonstrate that PtBGS is a vacuolar protein located in the tonoplast. Metabolite analyses of two mutant strains with reduced amounts of PtBGS reveal a reduction in their chrysolaminarin content and an increase of soluble sugars and lipids. This indicates that carbohydrates are shunted into alternative pathways when chrysolaminarin production is impaired. The mutant strains show reduced growth and lower photosynthetic capacities, while possessing higher photoprotective abilities than WT cells. Interestingly, a strong reduction in PtBGS expression also results in aberrations of the usually very regular thylakoid membrane patterns, including increased thylakoid thickness, reduced numbers of thylakoids per plastid, and increased numbers of lamellae per thylakoid stack. Our data demonstrate the complex intertwinement of carbohydrate storage in the vacuoles with carbohydrate metabolism, photosynthetic homeostasis, and plastid morphology.
Organelle Studies and Proteome Analyses on Mitochondria and Plastids Fractions from the Diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana
2019-08-01, Schober, Alexander, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Bischoff, Annsophie, Lepetit, Bernard, Gruber, Ansgar, Kroth, Peter G.
Diatoms are unicellular algae and evolved by secondary endosymbiosis, a process in which a red alga-like eukaryote was engulfed by a heterotrophic eukaryotic cell. This gave rise to plastids of remarkable complex architecture and ultrastructure that require elaborate protein importing, trafficking, signaling and intracellular cross-talk pathways. Studying both plastids and mitochondria and their distinctive physiological pathways in organello may greatly contribute to our understanding of photosynthesis, mitochondrial respiration, and diatom evolution. The isolation of such complex organelles, however, is still demanding, and existing protocols are either limited to a few species (for plastids) or have not been reported for diatoms so far (for mitochondria). In this work, we present the first isolation protocol for mitochondria from the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Apart from that, we extended the protocol so that it is also applicable for the purification of a high-quality plastids fraction, and provide detailed structural and physiological characterizations of the resulting organelles. Isolated mitochondria were structurally intact, showed clear evidence of mitochondrial respiration, but the fractions still contained residual cell fragments. In contrast, plastid isolates were virtually free of cellular contaminants, featured structurally preserved thylakoids performing electron transport, but lost most of their stromal components as concluded from western blots and mass spectrometry. LC-ESI-MS/MS studies on mitochondria and thylakoids, moreover, allowed detailed proteome analyses which resulted in extensive proteome maps for both plastids and mitochondria thus helping us to broaden our understanding of organelle metabolism and functionality in diatoms.
A fast and reliable strategy to generate TALEN-mediated gene knockouts in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2017, Serif, Manuel, Lepetit, Bernard, Weißert, Kristoffer, Kroth, Peter G., Río Bártulos, Carolina
Reverse genetics techniques are powerful tools for studying gene functions. In the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, RNAi-mediated knockdown of genes still is the most commonly used reverse genetics technique. Due to the diploidic life cycle missing reproduction in lab cultures, many commonly used techniques to create knockout instead of knockdown lines are not applicable in P. tricornutum. These limitations can be overcome by using genome editing approaches like TALEN (Transcription activator-like effector nucleases), and/or CRISPR/Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), allowing the introduction of targeted mutagenesis events. Both techniques have recently been adapted exemplarily for diatoms, however, no concise guidelines exist yet for routine utilization of these tools and the subsequent characterization of the mutants. We therefore have adapted a cost-effective TALEN generation system previously established for mammalian cells for the use in P. tricornutum, allowing the assembly of TALENs in about two weeks. We further provide protocols for: a) choosing a TALEN target site in order to avoid potentially ineffective and/or off-target prone TALEN constructs, b) efficient transformation of P. tricornutum with both TALEN constructs, utilizing two antibiotics resistance markers, c) effective screening of the transformants. In order to test our system we chose the blue-light dependent transcription factor Aureochrome 1a (PtAureo1a) as a target gene due to the known phenotype of previously characterized P. tricornutum RNAi knockdown strains. Our TALEN approach appears to be highly efficient: targeted mutation events were detected in 50% of all transformants obtained, whereas 21% of the transformants were found to be bi-allelic knockout lines. Furthermore, most TALEN transformed cell lines were found to be genetically homogeneous without the need for re-plating, which greatly facilitates the screening process.