Channeling of eukaryotic diacylglycerol into the biosynthesis of plastidial phosphatidylglycerol

J Biol Chem. 2007 Feb 16;282(7):4613-4625. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M606295200. Epub 2006 Dec 11.


Plastidial glycolipids contain diacylglycerol (DAG) moieties, which are either synthesized in the plastids (prokaryotic lipids) or originate in the extraplastidial compartment (eukaryotic lipids) necessitating their transfer into plastids. In contrast, the only phospholipid in plastids, phosphatidylglycerol (PG), contains exclusively prokaryotic DAG backbones. PG contributes in several ways to the functions of chloroplasts, but it is not known to what extent its prokaryotic nature is required to fulfill these tasks. As a first step toward answering this question, we produced transgenic tobacco plants that contain eukaryotic PG in thylakoids. This was achieved by targeting a bacterial DAG kinase into chloroplasts in which the heterologous enzyme was also incorporated into the envelope fraction. From lipid analysis we conclude that the DAG kinase phosphorylated eukaryotic DAG forming phosphatidic acid, which was converted into PG. This resulted in PG with 2-3 times more eukaryotic than prokaryotic DAG backbones. In the newly formed PG the unique Delta3-trans-double bond, normally confined to 3-trans-hexadecenoic acid, was also found in sn-2-bound cis-unsaturated C18 fatty acids. In addition, a lipidomics technique allowed the characterization of phosphatidic acid, which is assumed to be derived from eukaryotic DAG precursors in the chloroplasts of the transgenic plants. The differences in lipid composition had only minor effects on measured functions of the photosynthetic apparatus, whereas the most obvious phenotype was a significant reduction in growth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diacylglycerol Kinase / biosynthesis*
  • Diacylglycerol Kinase / genetics
  • Diglycerides / genetics
  • Diglycerides / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Phosphatidylglycerols / biosynthesis*
  • Photosynthesis / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Thylakoids / enzymology*
  • Thylakoids / genetics
  • Tobacco / enzymology*
  • Tobacco / genetics


  • Diglycerides
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Diacylglycerol Kinase