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Photosynthetic organisms utilize sulfate for the synthesis of sulfur-compounds including proteins and a sulfolipid, sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol. Upon ambient deficiency in sulfate, cells of a green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, degrade the chloroplast membrane sulfolipid to ensure an intracellular-sulfur source for necessary protein synthesis. Here, the effects of sulfate-starvation on the sulfolipid stability were investigated in another green alga, Chlorella kessleri, and two cyanobacteria, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. The results showed that sulfolipid degradation was induced only in C. kessleri, raising the possibility that this degradation ability was obtained not by cyanobacteria, but by eukaryotic algae during the evolution of photosynthetic organisms. Meanwhile, Synechococcus disruptants concerning sqdB and sqdX genes, which are involved in successive reactions in the sulfolipid synthesis pathway, were respectively characterized in cellular response to sulfate-starvation. Phycobilisome degradation intrinsic to Synechococcus, but not to Synechocystis, and cell growth under sulfate-starved conditions were repressed in the sqdB and sqdX disruptants, respectively, relative to in the wild type. Their distinct phenotypes, despite the common loss of the sulfolipid, inferred specific roles of sqdB and sqdX. This study demonstrated that sulfolipid metabolism might have been developed to enable species- or cyanobacterial-strain dependent processes for acclimation to sulfate-starvation.


Norihiro Sato, Ryohei Kamimura, Kodai Kaneta, Misato Yoshikawa, Mikio Tsuzuki. Species-specific roles of sulfolipid metabolism in acclimation of photosynthetic microbes to sulfur-starvation stress. PloS one. 2017;12(10):e0186154

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PMID: 29023570

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