Trehalose and carbon partitioning in sugarcane

Bosch, Susan (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2005-12)

Thesis (PhD (Genetics. Plant Biotechnology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The current understanding of the regulation of sucrose accumulation is still incomplete even though many scientists have investigated this subject. Components of trehalose metabolism have been implicated in the regulation of carbon flux in bacteria, yeast and more recently in plants. With a view to placing trehalose metabolism in the context of cytosolic sugarcane sucrose metabolism and carbon partitioning we have investigated the metabolites, transcripts and enzymes involved in this branch of carbohydrate metabolism in sugarcane internodal tissues. Sugarcane internodal trehalose levels varied between 0.31 ± 0.09 and 3.91 ± 0.99 nmol.g-1 fresh weight (FW). From statistical analysis of the metabolite profile it would appear that trehalose does not directly affect sucrose accumulation, although this does not preclude involvement of trehalose- 6-phosphate in the regulation of carbon partitioning. The metabolite data generated in this study demanded further investigation into the enzymes (and their transcripts) responsible for trehalose metabolism. Trehalose is synthesised in a two step process by the enzymes trehalose-6-phosphate synthase (EC, TPS) and trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase (EC, TPP), and degraded by trehalase (EC Two novel sugarcane partial cDNAs that coded for trehalase (tre) and actin (required for normalisation in profiling experiments) were isolated and used along with partial transcripts for TPS and TPP to determine transcript levels in different tissue- and genotypes. A putative full-length SugTPS cDNA was isolated and characterised. Enzyme activities for TPS, TPP and trehalase were measured at levels of 2.7, 8.5 and 6.2 respectively, from young internodal protein extracts of sugarcane, variety N19. TPP enzyme activity and transcript levels were higher in S. spontaneum than Saccharum interspecific hybrids. Kinetic analysis of TPP and trehalase activities were performed with the purpose of providing parameters for an in silico kinetic model of trehalose and sucrose metabolism. Three isoforms of TPP were identified and desingated TPPAI, TPPAII and TPPB. Both TPPA isoforms had pH optima of 6.0, and TPPB of pH 6.5. Apparent Km values were determined as 0.447 ± 0.007 mM for TPPAI, 13.82 ± 1.98 mM for TPPAII and 1.387 ± 0.18 mM for TPPB. Partial purification and characterisation of trehalase demonstrated dual pH optima of 3.5 and 6.0, with Km values between 0.345 and 0.375 mM. These data were used as the basis for a kinetic model of trehalose metabolism. A previously described kinetic model of cytosolic sucrose metabolism has been expanded to include the trehalose pathway (TPS, TPP and trehalase). The aim was to supplement the available information on cytosolic metabolism in sugarcane storage parenchyma, identify points of control between sucrose and trehalose metabolism, and provide a platform from which further experimental and in silico modelling can be launched. The model predicted trehalose in the same order of magnitude as those determined in the metabolite profiling experiments. The majority of control of flux over the trehalose pathway resided in the TPS step, with flux control coefficients > 70% of the total pathway. Incorporation of the trehalose branch into the original sucrose model showed that reactions from the original model significantly affected the steady-state attributes of the trehalose pathway. Due to the relatively low flux through the trehalose branch of the expanded model, complete recycling of trehalose, and the lack of allosteric regulation by trehalose-6-phosphate or trehalose on any of the reactions from the original sucrose model, incorporation of the trehalose branch had no significant effect on either steady-state cytosolic sucrose concentration or flux of sucrose into the vacuole. The expanded model affords a basis from which to further investigate trehalose metabolism in the context of plant sucrose accumulation.

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