Ergosterol is the predominant sterol of fungi and green algae. Although the biosynthetic pathway for sterol synthesis in fungi is well established and is known to use C24-methylation-C24 (28)-reduction (Δ24(28)-olefin pathway) steps, little is known about the sterol pathway in green algae. Previous work has raised the possibility that these algae might use a novel pathway because the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was shown to possess a mevalonate-independent methylerythritol 4-phosphate not present in fungi. Here, we report that C. reinhardtii synthesizes the protosterol cycloartenol and converts it to ergosterol (C24β-methyl) and 7-dehydroporiferasterol (C24β-ethyl) through a highly conserved sterol C24- methylation-C25- reduction (Δ25(27)-olefin) pathway that is distinct from the well-described acetate-mevalonate pathway to fungal lanosterol and its conversion to ergosterol by the Δ24 (28)-olefin pathway. We isolated and characterized 23 sterols by a combination of GC-MS and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy analysis from a set of mutant, wild-type, and 25-thialanosterol-treated cells. The structure and stereochemistry of the final C24-alkyl sterol side chains possessed different combinations of 24β-methyl/ethyl groups and Δ22(23) E and Δ25 (27)-double bond constructions. When incubated with [methyl-2H3]methionine, cells incorporated three (into ergosterol) or five (into 7-dehydroporiferasterol) deuterium atoms into the newly biosynthesized 24β-alkyl sterols, consistent only with a Δ25 (27)-olefin pathway. Thus, our findings demonstrate that two separate isoprenoid-24-alkyl sterol pathways evolved in fungi and green algae, both of which converge to yield a common membrane insert ergosterol.
- Green algae
- Sterol C24-methyl transferase
- Sterol C25-reductase
- Sterol evolution