Research ArticleGENETICS

Transcriptional regulation of microalgae for concurrent lipid overproduction and secretion

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Science Advances  30 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau3795
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3795


Commercialization of algal lipids and biofuels is still impractical owing to the unavailability of lipogenic strains and lack of economically viable oil extraction strategies. Because lipogenesis is governed by multiple factors, success in generating industrial-suitable algal strains using conventional strategies has been limited. We report the discovery of a novel bZIP1 transcription factor, NobZIP1, whose overexpression results in a remarkable elevation of lipid accumulation and lipid secretion in a model microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica, without impairing other physiological properties. Chromatin immunoprecipitation–quantitative PCR analysis revealed that the key genes up- and down-regulated by NobZIP1 are involved in lipogenesis and cell wall polymer synthesis, respectively, which, in turn, induce lipid overproduction and secretion. Among these regulated genes, UDP-glucose dehydrogenase was shown to alter cell wall composition, thus also boosting lipid secretion. In summary, these results offer a comprehensive strategy for concurrent lipid overproduction and secretion, strongly increasing the commercial potential of microalgae.

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