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.
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.
Plastid thylakoid architecture optimizes photosynthesis in diatoms
2017-06-20, Flori, Serena, Jouneau, Pierre-Henri, Bailleul, Benjamin, Gallet, Benoit, Estrozi, Leandro F., Schober, Alexander, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Kroth, Peter G., Falconet, Denis, Finazzi, Giovanni
Photosynthesis is a unique process that allows independent colonization of the land by plants and of the oceans by phytoplankton. Although the photosynthesis process is well understood in plants, we are still unlocking the mechanisms evolved by phytoplankton to achieve extremely efficient photosynthesis. Here, we combine biochemical, structural and in vivo physiological studies to unravel the structure of the plastid in diatoms, prominent marine eukaryotes. Biochemical and immunolocalization analyses reveal segregation of photosynthetic complexes in the loosely stacked thylakoid membranes typical of diatoms. Separation of photosystems within subdomains minimizes their physical contacts, as required for improved light utilization. Chloroplast 3D reconstruction and in vivo spectroscopy show that these subdomains are interconnected, ensuring fast equilibration of electron carriers for efficient optimum photosynthesis. Thus, diatoms and plants have converged towards a similar functional distribution of the photosystems although via different thylakoid architectures, which likely evolved independently in the land and the ocean.
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.
Genome editing in diatoms : achievements and goals
2018-10, Kroth, Peter G., Bones, Atle M., Daboussi, Fayza, Ferrante, Maria I., Jaubert, Marianne, Kolot, Misha, Nymark, Marianne, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Serif, Manuel, Falciatore, Angela
Diatoms are major components of phytoplankton and play a key role in the ecology of aquatic ecosystems. These algae are of great scientific importance for a wide variety of research areas, ranging from marine ecology and oceanography to biotechnology. During the last 20 years, the availability of genomic information on selected diatom species and a substantial progress in genetic manipulation, strongly contributed to establishing diatoms as molecular model organisms for marine biology research. Recently, tailored TALEN endonucleases and the CRISPR/Cas9 system were utilized in diatoms, allowing targeted genetic modifications and the generation of knockout strains. These approaches are extremely valuable for diatom research because breeding, forward genetic screens by random insertion, and chemical mutagenesis are not applicable to the available model species Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira pseudonana, which do not cross sexually in the lab. Here, we provide an overview of the genetic toolbox that is currently available for performing stable genetic modifications in diatoms. We also discuss novel challenges that need to be addressed to fully exploit the potential of these technologies for the characterization of diatom biology and for metabolic engineering.
Isolation of Plastid Fractions from the Diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2018, Schober, Alexander, Flori, Serena, Finazzi, Giovanni, Kroth, Peter G., Río Bártulos, Carolina
The so-called "complex" plastids from diatoms possessing four envelope membranes are a typical feature of algae that arose from secondary endosymbiosis. Studying isolated plastids from these algae may allow answering a number of fundamental questions regarding diatom photosynthesis and plastid functionality. Due to their complex architecture and their integration into the cellular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) system, their isolation though is still challenging. In this work, we report a reliable isolation technique that is applicable for the two model diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. The resulting plastid-enriched fractions are of homogenous quality, almost free from cellular contaminants, and feature structurally intact thylakoids that are capable to perform oxygenic photosynthesis, though in most cases they seem to lack most of the stromal components as well as plastid envelopes.
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.
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.
Blasticidin-S deaminase, a new selection marker for genetic transformation of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum
2018, Buck, Jochen Mario, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Gruber, Ansgar, Kroth, Peter G.
Most genetic transformation protocols for the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum rely on one of two available antibiotics as selection markers: Zeocin (a formulation of phleomycin D1) or nourseothricin. This limits the number of possible consecutive genetic transformations that can be performed. In order to expand the biotechnological possibilities for P. tricornutum, we searched for additional antibiotics and corresponding resistance genes that might be suitable for use with this diatom. Among the three different antibiotics tested in this study, blasticidin-S and tunicamycin turned out to be lethal to wild-type cells at low concentrations, while voriconazole had no detectable effect on P. tricornutum. Testing the respective resistance genes, we found that the blasticidin-S deaminase gene (bsr) effectively conferred resistance against blasticidin-S to P. tricornutum. Furthermore, we could show that expression of bsr did not lead to cross-resistances against Zeocin or nourseothricin, and that genetically transformed cell lines with resistance against Zeocin or nourseothricin were not resistant against blasticidin-S. In a proof of concept, we also successfully generated double resistant (against blasticidin-S and nourseothricin) P. tricornutum cell lines by co-delivering the bsr vector with a vector conferring nourseothricin resistance to wild-type cells.