Antisense knockdown of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase promotes the neutral lipid accumulation in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum.

Research paper by Yu-Han YH Ma, Xiang X Wang, Ying-Fang YF Niu, Zhi-Kai ZK Yang, Meng-Han MH Zhang, Zhong-Ming ZM Wang, Wei-Dong WD Yang, Jie-Sheng JS Liu, Hong-Ye HY Li

Indexed on: 12 Aug '14Published on: 12 Aug '14Published in: Microbial Cell Factories


Microalgae have been an emerging biofuel resource; however, the germplasm improvement has been slow due to the lack of molecular tools. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) deactivates the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) which catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate. Acetyl-CoA production via PDC is important in plant tissues that are active in fatty acid synthesis.A 1261-bp cDNA of a putative PDK gene (PtPDK) was cloned from a diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and PtPDK antisense knockdown transgenic diatoms were generated. Both PtPDK transcript abundance and enzyme activity were reduced significantly due to antisense knockdown of PtPDK. Neutral lipid content of transgenic diatom cells increased up to 82% as determined by Nile red staining, and fatty acid composition was not altered. Transgenic cells showed slightly lower growth rate but similar cell size with the wild type, hence retaining similar biomass productivity.This work first obtained a successful engineered diatom regulating a key gene involved in lipid metabolism. Our findings also provide powerful indications in enhancing microalgal lipid production by metabolic engineering for biofuel industry.