The unique sterol biosynthesis pathway of three model diatoms consists of a conserved core and diversified endpoints

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Journal Article
Algal Research, 2020, 48
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© 2020 Diatoms produce a wide diversity of sterols among different species, the biosynthesis and conservation of which is not yet fully understood. To investigate the conservation and divergence of sterol biosynthesis pathways among diatoms, we performed comparative metabolic profiling and transcriptomics for a centric diatom (Thalassiosira pseudonana), a pennate diatom (Phaeodactylum tricornutum) and a chaetocerid (Chaetoceros muelleri) in response to inhibitors of enzymes involved in sterol biosynthesis. These three model diatoms, which are representative of distinct clades, share a unique core phytosterol biosynthesis pathway that relies on a terbinafine-insensitive alternative squalene epoxidase and the cyclization of 2,3-epoxysqualene into cycloartenol by a conserved oxidosqualene cyclase. Lineage-specific divergence in the synthesis of sterol precursors was found in the species analyzed. Cholesterol synthesis in diatoms seems to occur via cycloartenol rather than lanosterol. The diversification of natural sterols produced by each species appears to occur downstream of all experimentally targeted enzymes, suggesting adaptive specialization in terminal synthesis pathways.
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