Gene expression and molecular evolution of sxtA4 in a saxitoxin producing dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology, 2014, 92 pp. 102 - 112
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Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Dinoflagellates of the genus Alexandrium produce the neurotoxin saxitoxin (STX), responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and accumulates in marine invertebrates. The recent identification of STX biosynthesis genes allowed us to investigate the expression of sxtA4 at different growth stages in Alexandrium catenella Group IV. We found no significant differences in expression of sxtA4, despite significant differences in STX levels at different growth stages (P < 0.023). Three reference genes were tested for normalisation: actin, cytochrome b (cob), and the large subunit ribosomal RNA (LSU rDNA). cob was most stably expressed but the combination of two reference genes, actin and cob, resulted in the best stability factor. Most genomic sequences of sxtA4 from A. catenella were in a clade that included sequences from Alexandrium fundyense Group I, however, one paralogue was not related to the others, suggesting recombination or lateral transfer. A comparison of the sxtA4 cDNA sequences with genomic DNA sequences indicated the possibility of transcript editing and the preferential transcription of certain genomic DNA loci. The results show that, in dinoflagellates, post-transcriptional mechanisms play a major role in the regulation of saxitoxin biosynthesis.
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