SLC4 family transporters in a marine diatom directly pump bicarbonate from seawater

Kensuke Nakajima, Atsuko Tanaka, Yusuke Matsuda
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2013 January 29, 110 (5): 1767-72
Photosynthesis in marine diatoms is a vital fraction of global primary production empowered by CO(2)-concentrating mechanisms. Acquisition of HCO(3)(-) from seawater is a critical primary step of the CO(2)-concentrating mechanism, allowing marine photoautotrophic eukaryotes to overcome CO(2) limitation in alkaline high-salinity water. However, little is known about molecular mechanisms governing this process. Here, we show the importance of a plasma membrane-type HCO(3)(-) transporter for CO(2) acquisition in a marine diatom. Ten putative solute carrier (SLC) family HCO(3)(-) transporter genes were found in the genome of the marine pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Homologs also exist in marine centric species, Thalassiosira pseudonana, suggesting a general occurrence of SLC transporters in marine diatoms. Seven genes were found to encode putative mammalian-type SLC4 family transporters in P. tricornutum, and three of seven genes were specifically transcribed under low CO(2) conditions. One of these gene products, PtSLC4-2, was localized at the plasmalemma and significantly stimulated both dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) uptake and photosynthesis in P. tricornutum. DIC uptake by PtSLC4-2 was efficiently inhibited by an anion-exchanger inhibitor, 4,4'-diisothiocyanostilbene-2,2'-disulfonic acid, in a concentration-dependent manner and highly dependent on Na(+) ions at concentrations over 100 mM. These results show that DIC influx into marine diatoms is directly driven at the plasmalemma by a specific HCO(3)(-) transporter with a significant halophilic nature.

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