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1.  Physiological Regulation of Isocitrate Dehydrogenase and the Role of 2-Oxoglutarate in Prochlorococcus sp. Strain PCC 9511 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103380.
The enzyme isocitrate dehydrogenase (ICDH; EC 1.1.1.42) catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of isocitrate, to produce 2-oxoglutarate. The incompleteness of the tricarboxylic acids cycle in marine cyanobacteria confers a special importance to isocitrate dehydrogenase in the C/N balance, since 2-oxoglutarate can only be metabolized through the glutamine synthetase/glutamate synthase pathway. The physiological regulation of isocitrate dehydrogenase was studied in cultures of Prochlorococcus sp. strain PCC 9511, by measuring enzyme activity and concentration using the NADPH production assay and Western blotting, respectively. The enzyme activity showed little changes under nitrogen or phosphorus starvation, or upon addition of the inhibitors DCMU, DBMIB and MSX. Azaserine, an inhibitor of glutamate synthase, induced clear increases in the isocitrate dehydrogenase activity and icd gene expression after 24 h, and also in the 2-oxoglutarate concentration. Iron starvation had the most significant effect, inducing a complete loss of isocitrate dehydrogenase activity, possibly mediated by a process of oxidative inactivation, while its concentration was unaffected. Our results suggest that isocitrate dehydrogenase responds to changes in the intracellular concentration of 2-oxoglutarate and to the redox status of the cells in Prochlorococcus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103380
PMCID: PMC4111581  PMID: 25061751
2.  Glucose Uptake and Its Effect on Gene Expression in Prochlorococcus 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3416.
The marine cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus have been considered photoautotrophic microorganisms, although the utilization of exogenous sugars has never been specifically addressed in them. We studied glucose uptake in different high irradiance- and low irradiance-adapted Prochlorococcus strains, as well as the effect of glucose addition on the expression of several glucose-related genes. Glucose uptake was measured by adding radiolabelled glucose to Prochlorococcus cultures, followed by flow cytometry coupled with cell sorting in order to separate Prochlorococcus cells from bacterial contaminants. Sorted cells were recovered by filtration and their radioactivity measured. The expression, after glucose addition, of several genes (involved in glucose metabolism, and in nitrogen assimilation and its regulation) was determined in the low irradiance-adapted Prochlorococcus SS120 strain by semi-quantitative real time RT-PCR, using the rnpB gene as internal control. Our results demonstrate for the first time that the Prochlorococcus strains studied in this work take up glucose at significant rates even at concentrations close to those found in the oceans, and also exclude the possibility of this uptake being carried out by eventual bacterial contaminants, since only Prochlorococcus cells were used for radioactivity measurements. Besides, we show that the expression of a number of genes involved in glucose utilization (namely zwf, gnd and dld, encoding glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase, respectively) is strongly increased upon glucose addition to cultures of the SS120 strain. This fact, taken together with the magnitude of the glucose uptake, clearly indicates the physiological importance of the phenomenon. Given the significant contribution of Prochlorococcus to the global primary production, these findings have strong implications for the understanding of the phytoplankton role in the carbon cycle in nature. Besides, the ability of assimilating carbon molecules could provide additional hints to comprehend the ecological success of Prochlorococcus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003416
PMCID: PMC2565063  PMID: 18941506

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