Analysis of spontaneous suppressor mutants from the photomixotrophically grown pmgA-disrupted mutant in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803
In the glucose-tolerant strain of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, we found two types of cells with distinct growth properties. Under photoautotrophic conditions at any light intensity, one type gave larger colonies (designated WL) than the other (designated WS). Notably, the WL cells produced much larger colonies than the WS cells at higher light intensity. In contrast, growth of the WL cells was severely suppressed under mixotrophic conditions with glucose and light, while the WS cells grew normally. A gene which could complement the WL phenotype was obtained from a wild-type genomic library. The gene, designated pmgA, coded for a 23 kDa polypeptide of 204 amino acid residues with no apparent homology to known genes. In the WL genome, the base substitution of T for C at position 193 of pmgA caused replacement of Leu with Phe at position 65 of the product. The phenotype of pmgA disruption mutants was similar to that of the WL cells, indicating that the WS cells expressed a functional pmgA product. By direct sequencing of polymerase chain reaction-amplified pmgA from genomic DNA, it was revealed as an example of microevolution that WL had expelled WS from the photoautotrophic culture of wild-type in our laboratory for a year or so. Mixed culture in liquid also demonstrated that the WL cells increased gradually under photoautotrophic conditions, while they decreased rapidly under photomixotrophic conditions. These results suggest that pmgA product is essential for photomixotrophic growth, whereas it represses photoautotrophic growth. To our knowledge, the WL cells and pmgA-disrupted mutants are the first in cyanobacteria, which shows much improved photosynthetic growth than wild-type especially at high light intensity.