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Characterization of a type III polyketide synthase (sjPKS1) gene and its expression in response to light in the economic brown alga Saccharina japonica


Phlorotannins are among the most important defensive molecules in kelp. They have been majorly identified in brown algae so far. Type III polyketide synthase (PKS) is regarded as one of the enzymes catalyzing a major step in the biosynthetic pathway of phlorotannins. In this study, a type III PKS gene (sjPKS1) is characterized from the economic brown alga Saccharina japonica sporophyte. It contains 7 exons and 6 introns. The sjPKS1 open reading frame consists of 1245 nucleotides encoding a protein of 414 amino acids. The sjPKS1 are 87%, 83%, and 82% identical to that of Ectocarpus siliculosus, Sargassum binderi, and Sargassum fusiforme at the nucleotide level, respectively. While the amino acid sequences of sjPKS1 share more than 90% identity to that of the three brown algae species. The sjPKS1 expression at 200 µmol photons m−2 s−1 was significantly higher than at 20 and 50 µmol photons m−2 s−1 in sporophytic seedlings, so did the content of soluble phlorotannins inside the plants. Seven motifs in response to light are identified in the 5′ flanking region of sjPKS1 and two potential transcription factors are predicted by screening yeast one-hybrid library.

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Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.



Polyketide synthase


Open reading frame


Transcription factor


Chalcone synthase


Provasoli’s enriched seawater


Synthetic defined


Aureobasidin A


Heat shock protein


Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3 subunit F


Mpr1p, Pad1p N-terminal


Jab1/MPN domain metalloenzyme


Constitutive photomorphogenesis 9


COP9 signalosome


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This research was supported by projects from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 31702365), the Biological Resources Program from Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-BRP-017–53), a STS program from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-STS-QYZD-154), a special supporting program for maintaining seaweed stock culture from the Chinese Academy of Science (CZBZX-1), a key supporting project from the Centre for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (COMS2020J01), the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-50), and the Taishan Scholar Program of Shandong Province and the National Marine Genetic Resource Center.

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JL wrote the manuscript and conducted the experiments; SJP edited the manuscript; LS carried out the statistical analysis and TF participated in the experiments design.

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Correspondence to Shaojun Pang.

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Li, J., Pang, S., Su, L. et al. Characterization of a type III polyketide synthase (sjPKS1) gene and its expression in response to light in the economic brown alga Saccharina japonica. J Appl Phycol 34, 1709–1719 (2022).

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  • Kelp
  • Type III polyketide synthase
  • Phlorotannins
  • Yeast one-hybrid library
  • Transcription factor