Characterization of cyanate metabolism in marine Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus spp.
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Cyanobacteria of the genera Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus are the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth occupying a key position at the base of marine food webs. The cynS gene that encodes cyanase was identified among bacterial, fungi and plant sequences in public databases and the gene was particularly prevalent among cyanobacteria, including numerous Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus strains. Phylogenetic analysis of cynS sequences retrieved from the Global Ocean Survey database identified >60% as belonging to unicellular marine cyanobacteria, suggesting an important role for cyanase in their nitrogen metabolism. Here we showed that marine cyanobacteria have a functionally active cyanase, the transcriptional regulation of which varies among strains and reflects the genomic context of cynS. In Prochlorococcus sp. MED4, cynS was presumably transcribed as part of the cynABDS operon, implying cyanase involvement in cyanate utilization. In Synechococcus sp. WH8102, expression was not related to nitrogen stress responses and here cyanase presumably serves in the detoxification of cyanate resulting from intracellular urea and/or carbamoyl phosphate decomposition. Lastly, we report on a cyanase activity encoded by cynH, a novel gene found in marine cyanobacteria only. The presence of dual cyanase genes in genomes of seven marine Synechococcus strains and their respective roles in nitrogen metabolism remain to be clarified.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of American Society for Microbiology for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77 (2011): 291-301, doi:10.1128/AEM.01272-10.
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