Amino Acids Supplied through the Autophagy/Endocytosis Pathway Promote Starch Synthesis in Physcomitrella Protonemal Cells

Plants (Basel). 2022 Aug 19;11(16):2157. doi: 10.3390/plants11162157.


The physiological implications of autophagy in plant cells have not been fully elucidated. Therefore, we investigated the consequences of autophagy in the moss Physcomitrella by measuring biochemical parameters (fresh and dry weights; starch, amino acid, carbohydrate, and NH3 content) in wild-type (WT) and autophagy-deficient atg5 Physcomitrella cells. We found higher starch levels and a higher net starch synthesis rate in WT cells than in atg5 cells cultured in a glucose-containing culture medium, whereas net starch degradation was similar in the two strains cultured in a glucose-deficient culture medium. Additionally, the treatment of cells with the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine suppressed starch synthesis. Loading bovine serum albumin into atg5 cells through endocytosis, i.e., supplying proteins to vacuoles in the same way as through autophagy, accelerated starch synthesis, whereas loading glutamine through the plasma membrane had no such effect, suggesting that Physcomitrella cells distinguish between different amino acid supply pathways. After net starch synthesis, NH3 levels increased in WT cells, although the change in total amino acid content did not differ between WT and atg5 cells, indicating that autophagy-produced amino acids are oxidized rapidly. We conclude that autophagy promotes starch synthesis in Physcomitrella by supplying the energy obtained by oxidizing autophagy-produced amino acids.

Keywords: Physcomitrella (Physcomitrium); amino acid; autophagy; endocytosis; starch synthesis.