Comparative protein expression in different strains of the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa

Ralitza Alexova, Paul A. Haynes, Belinda C. Ferrari, Brett A. Neilan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Toxin production in algal blooms presents a significant problem for the water industry. Of particular concern is microcystin, a potent hepatotoxin produced by the unicellular freshwater species Microcystis aeruginosa. In this study, the proteomes of six toxic and nontoxic strains of M. aeruginosa were analyzed to gain further knowledge in elucidating the role of microcystin production in this microorganism. This represents the first comparative proteomic study in a cyanobacterial species. A large diversity in the protein expression profiles of each strain was observed, with a significant proportion of the identified proteins appearing to be strain-specific. In total, 475 proteins were identified reproducibly and of these, 82 comprised the core proteome of M. aeruginosa. The expression of several hypothetical and unknown proteins, including four possible operons was confirmed. Surprisingly, no proteins were found to be produced only by toxic or nontoxic strains. Quantitative proteome analysis using the labelfree normalized spectrum abundance factor approach revealed nine proteins that were differentially expressed between toxic and nontoxic strains. These proteins participate in carbon-nitrogen metabolism and redox balance maintenance and point to an involvement of the global nitrogen regulator NtcA in toxicity. In addition, the switching of a previously inactive toxin-producing strain to microcystin synthesis is reported.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


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