Cytochrome cM decreases photosynthesis under photomixotrophy in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803

Daniel Solymosi, Lauri Nikkanen, Dorota Muth-Pawlak, Duncan Fitzpatrick, Ravendran Vasudevan, Christopher J. Howe, David J. Lea-Smith, Yagut Allahverdiyeva

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Photomixotrophy is a metabolic state that enables photosynthetic microorganisms to simultaneously perform photosynthesis and metabolism of imported organic carbon substrates. This process is complicated in cyanobacteria, since many, including Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, conduct photosynthesis and respiration in an interlinked thylakoid membrane electron transport chain. Under photomixotrophy, the cell must therefore tightly regulate electron fluxes from photosynthetic and respiratory complexes. In this study, we demonstrate, via characterization of photosynthetic apparatus and the proteome, that photomixotrophic growth results in a gradual inhibition of QA- reoxidation in wild-type Synechocystis, which largely decreases photosynthesis over 3 d of growth. This process is circumvented by deleting the gene encoding cytochrome cM (CytM), a cryptic c-type heme protein widespread in cyanobacteria. The ΔCytM strain maintained active photosynthesis over the 3-d period, demonstrated by high photosynthetic O2 and CO2 fluxes and effective yields of PSI and PSII. Overall, this resulted in a higher growth rate compared to that of the wild type, which was maintained by accumulation of proteins involved in phosphate and metal uptake, and cofactor biosynthetic enzymes. While the exact role of CytM has not been determined, a mutant deficient in the thylakoid-localized respiratory terminal oxidases and CytM (ΔCox/Cyd/CytM) displayed a phenotype similar to that of ΔCytM under photomixotrophy. This, in combination with other physiological data, and in contrast to a previous hypothesis, suggests that CytM does not transfer electrons to these complexes. In summary, our data suggest that CytM may have a regulatory role in photomixotrophy by modulating the photosynthetic capacity of cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-716
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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