Characterization of a microcystin and detection of microcystin synthetase genes from a Brazilian isolate of Nostoc

Toxicon. 2010 Apr 1;55(4):846-54. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.12.001. Epub 2009 Dec 7.


A nostocalean nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium isolated from an eutrophic freshwater reservoir located in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil, was evaluated for the production of hepatotoxic cyclic heptapeptides, microcystins. Morphologically this new cyanobacterium strain appears closest to Nostoc, however, in the phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene it falls into a highly stable cluster distantly only related to the typical Nostoc cluster. Extracts of Nostoc sp. CENA88 cultured cells, investigated using ELISA assay, gave positive results and the microcystin profile revealed by ESI-Q-TOF/MS/MS analysis confirmed the production of [Dha(7)]MCYST-YR. Further, Nostoc sp. CENA88 genomic DNA was analyzed by PCR for sequences of mcyD, mcyE and mcyG genes of microcystin synthetase (mcy) cluster. The result revealed the presence of mcyD, mcyE and mcyG genes with similarities to those from mcy of Nostoc sp. strains 152 and IO-102-I and other cyanobacterial genera. The phylogenetic tree based on concatenated McyG, McyD and McyE amino acids clustered the sequences according to cyanobacterial genera, with exception of the Nostoc sp. CENA88 sequence, which was placed in a clade distantly related from other Nostoc strains, as previously observed also in the 16S rRNA phylogenetic analysis. The present study describes for the first time a Brazilian Nostoc microcystin producer and also the occurrence of demethyl MCYST-YR variant in this genus. The sequenced Nostoc genes involved in the microcystin synthesis can contribute to a better understanding of the toxigenicity and evolution of this cyanotoxin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Brazil
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Nostoc / enzymology*
  • Peptide Synthases / genetics*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Peptide Synthases
  • microcystin synthetase A