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The exogenous crtZ gene from Brevundimonas sp. SD212, coding for a 3,3' β-car hydroxylase, was expressed in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 under the control of a temperature-inducible promoter in an attempt to engineer the carotenoid metabolic pathway, to increase the content of zeaxanthin and its further hydroxylated derivatives caloxanthin and nostoxanthin. These molecules are of particular interest due to their renowned antioxidant properties. Cultivation of the engineered strain S7942Z-Ti at 35 °C, a temperature which is well tolerated by the wild-type strain and at which the inducible expression system is activated, led to a significant redistribution of the relative carotenoid content. β-Carotene decreased to about 10% of the pool that is an excess of a threefold decrease with respect to the control, and concomitantly, zeaxanthin became the dominant carotenoid accounting for about half of the pool. As a consequence, zeaxanthin and its derivatives caloxanthin and nostoxanthin collectively accounted for about 90% of the accumulated carotenoids. Yet, upon induction of CrtZ expression at 35 °C the S7942Z-Ti strain displayed a substantial growth impairment accompanied, initially, by a relative loss of carotenoids and successively by the appearance of chlorophyll degradation products which can be interpreted as markers of cellular stress. These observations suggest a limit to the exploitation of Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 for biotechnological purposes aimed at increasing the production of hydroxylated carotenoids. © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to European Photochemistry Association, European Society for Photobiology.


Anna Paola Casazza, Alessandro Lombardi, Barbara Menin, Stefano Santabarbara. Temperature-induced zeaxanthin overproduction in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. Photochemical & photobiological sciences : Official journal of the European Photochemistry Association and the European Society for Photobiology. 2023 Apr;22(4):783-794

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PMID: 36536270

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