Date of this Version
THE JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY VOL. 292, NO. 1, pp. 361–374
Deriving biofuels and other lipoid products from algae is a promising future technology directly addressing global issues of atmospheric CO2 balance. To better understand the metabolism of triglyceride synthesis in algae, we examined their metabolic origins in the model species, Coccomyxa subellipsoidea C169, using stable isotopic labeling. Labeling patterns arising from [U-13C]glucose, 13CO2, or D2O supplementation were analyzed by GC-MS and/or LC-MS over time courses during nitrogen starvation to address the roles of catabolic carbon recycling, acyl chain redistribution, and de novo fatty acid (FA) synthesis during the expansion of the lipid bodies. The metabolic origin of stress-induced triglyceride was found to be a continuous 8:2 ratio between de novo synthesized FA and acyl chain transfer from pre-stressed membrane lipids with little input from lipid remodeling. Membrane lipids were continually synthesized with associated acyl chain editing during nitrogen stress, in contrast to an overall decrease in total membrane lipid. The incorporation rates of de novo synthesized FA into lipid classes were measured over a time course of nitrogen starvation. The synthesis of triglycerides, phospholipids, and galactolipids followed a two-stage pattern where nitrogen starvation resulted in a 2.5-fold increase followed by a gradual decline. Acyl chain flux into membrane lipids was dominant in the first stage followed by triglycerides. These data indicate that the level of metabolic control that determines acyl chain flux between membrane lipids and triglycerides during nitrogen stress relies primarily on the Kennedy pathway and de novo FA synthesis with limited, defined input from acyl editing reactions.