Molecular and biochemical analysis of periplastidial starch metabolism in the cryptophyte Guillardia theta.
Starch in synchronously grown Guillardia theta cells accumulates throughout the light phase, followed by a linear degradation during the night. In contrast to the case for other unicellular algae such as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, no starch turnover occurred in this organism under continuous light. The gene encoding granule-bound starch synthase (GBSS1), the enzyme responsible for amylose synthesis, displays a diurnal expression cycle. The pattern consisted of a maximal transcript abundance around the middle of the light phase and a very low level during the night. This diurnal regulation of GBSS1 transcript abundance was demonstrated to be independent of the circadian clock but tightly light regulated. A similar yet opposite type of regulation pattern was found for two alpha-amylase isoforms and for one of the two plastidic triose phosphate transporter genes investigated. In these cases, however, the transcript abundance peaked in the night phase. The second plastidic triose phosphate transporter gene had the GBSS1 mRNA abundance pattern. Quantification of the GBSS1 activity revealed that not only gene expression but also total enzyme activity exhibited a maximum in the middle of the light phase. To gain a first insight into the transport processes involved in starch biosynthesis in cryptophytes, we demonstrated the presence of both plastidic triose phosphate transporter and plastidic ATP/ADP transporter activities in proteoliposomes harboring either total membranes or plastid envelope membranes from G. theta. These molecular and biochemical data are discussed with respect to the environmental conditions experienced by G. theta and with respect to the unique subcellular location of starch in cryptophytes.