The unicellular green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has long been studied for its unique fermentation pathways and has been evaluated as a candidate organism for biofuel production. Fermentation in C. reinhardtii is facilitated by a network of three predominant pathways producing four major byproducts: formate, ethanol, acetate and hydrogen. Previous micro-array studies identified many genes as being highly up-regulated during anaerobiosis. For example, hybrid cluster protein 4 (HCP4) was found to be one of the most highly up-regulated genes under anoxic conditions. Hybrid cluster proteins have long been studied for their unique spectroscopic properties, yet their biological functions remain largely unclear. To probe its role during anaerobiosis, HCP4 was silenced using artificial microRNAs (ami-hcp4) followed by extensive phenotypic analyses of cells grown under anoxic conditions. Both the expression of key fermentative enzymes and their respective metabolites were significantly altered in ami-hcp4, with nitrogen uptake from the media also being significantly different than wild-type cells. The results strongly suggest a role for HCP4 in regulating key fermentative and nitrogen utilization pathways.
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© 2016 Olson, Carter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.