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Relationship between acyl-lipid and sterol metabolisms in diatoms

  • Maréchal, Eric
  • Lupette, Josselin
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2019
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Diatoms are a phylum of unicellular photosynthetic eukaryotes living in oceans and fresh waters, characterized by the complexity of their plastid, resulting from a secondary endosymbiosis event. In the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, fatty acids (FAs) are synthesized from acetyl-CoA in the stroma of the plastid, producing palmitic acid. FAs are elongated and desaturated to form very-long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs) in domains of the endomembrane system that need to be identified. Synthesis of VLC-PUFAs is coupled with their import to the core of the plastid via the so-called "omega" pathway. The biosynthesis of sterols in diatoms is likely to be localized in the endoplasmic reticulum as well as using precursors deriving from the mevalonate pathway, using acetyl-CoA as initial substrate. These metabolic modules can be characterized functionally by genetic analyzes or chemical treatments with appropriate inhibitors. Some 'metabolic modules' are characterized by a very low level of metabolic intermediates. Since some chemical treatments or genetic perturbation of lipid metabolism induce the accumulation of these intermediates, channeling processes are possibly involved, suggesting that protein-protein interactions might occur between enzymes within large size complexes or metabolons. At the junction of these modules, metabolic intermediates might therefore play dramatic roles in directing carbon fluxes from one direction to another. Here, acetyl-CoA seems determinant in the balance between TAGs and sterols. Future lines of research and potential utilization for biotechnological applications are discussed.

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