Myxoxanthophyll is required for normal cell wall structure and thylakoid organization in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803

Hatem E. Mohamed, Allison M L Van De Meene, Robert Roberson, Willem Vermaas

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Myxoxanthophyll is a carotenoid glycoside in cyanobacteria that is of unknown biological significance. The sugar moiety of myxoxanthophyll in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 was identified as dimethyl fucose. The open reading frame sll1213 encoding a fucose synthetase orthologue was deleted to probe the role of fucose and to determine the biological significance of myxoxanthophyll in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803. Upon deletion of sll1213, a pleiotropic phenotype was obtained: when propagated at 0.5 μmol photons m-2 s-1, photomixotrophic growth of cells lacking sll1213 was poor. When grown at 40 μmol photons m-2 s-1, growth was comparable to that of the wild type, but cells showed a severe reduction in or loss of the glycocalyx (S-layer). As a consequence, cells aggregated in liquid as well as on plates. At both light intensities, new carotenoid glycosides accumulated, but myxoxanthophyll was absent. New carotenoid glycosides may be a consequence of less-specific glycosylation reactions that gained prominence upon the disappearance of the native sugar moiety (fucose) of myxoxanthophyll. In the mutant, the N-storage compound cyanophycin accumulated, and the organization of thylakoid membranes was altered. Altered cell wall structure and thylakoid membrane organization and increased cyanophycin accumulation were also observed for Δslr0940K, a strain lacking ζ-carotene desaturase and thereby all carotenoids but retaining fucose. Therefore, lack of myxoxanthophyll and not simply of fucose results in most of the phenotypic effects described here. It is concluded that myxoxanthophyll contributes significantly to the vigor of cyanobacteria, as it stabilizes thylakoid membranes and is critical for S-layer formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6883-6892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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