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Plant Cell. 2004 Aug;16(8):2151-63. Epub 2004 Jul 21.

Hydrogen photoproduction is attenuated by disruption of an isoamylase gene in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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  • 1National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA.


DNA insertional transformants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were screened chemochromically for attenuated H(2) production. One mutant, displaying low H(2) gas photoproduction, has a nonfunctional copy of a gene that shows high homology to the family of isoamylase genes found in several photosynthetic organisms. DNA gel blotting and gene complementation were used to link this isoamylase gene to previously characterized nontagged sta7 mutants. This mutant is therefore denoted sta7-10. In C. reinhardtii, the STA7 isoamylase gene is important for the accumulation of crystalline starch, and the sta7-10 mutant reported here contains <3% of the glucose found in insoluble starch when compared with wild-type control cells. Hydrogen photoproduction rates, induced after several hours of dark, anaerobic treatment, are attenuated in sta7 mutants. RNA gel blot analysis indicates that the mRNA transcripts for both the HydA1 and HydA2 [Fe]-hydrogenase genes are expressed in the sta7-10 mutant at greater than wild-type levels 0.5 h after anaerobic induction. However, after 1.5 h, transcript levels of both HydA1 and HydA2 begin to decline rapidly and reach nearly undetectable levels after 7 h. In wild-type cells, the hydrogenase transcripts accumulate more slowly, reach a plateau after 4 h of anaerobic treatment, and maintain the same level of expression for >7 h under anaerobic incubation. Complementation of mutant cells with genomic DNA corresponding to the STA7 gene restores both the starch accumulation and H(2) production phenotypes. The results indicate that STA7 and starch metabolism play an important role in C. reinhardtii H(2) photoproduction. Moreover, the results indicate that mere anaerobiosis is not sufficient to maintain hydrogenase gene expression without the underlying physiology, an important aspect of which is starch metabolism.

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