Hidden physiological function of the amino acid serine

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January 24, 2024

Its necessity for sexual reproduction in the non-vascular plant Marchantia polymorpha has been clarified

A collaborative research group of RIKEN CSRS, Tokyo Gakugei University, Kyoto University, Tokyo University of Science, and the others has unveiled a previously unknown role of the amino acid serine: it is a metabolite essential for sperm and sporophyte development of Marchantia polymorpha.

Using genome editing technology, the collaborative research group has generated mutants of Marchantia polymorpha that lack the function of3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PGDH), a key enzyme for serine biosynthesis. In addition, the group demonstrated that serine biosynthesis mediated by PGDH is essential for sperm and sporophyte development, as evidenced by detailed observations of cell shape using electron microscopy and comprehensive metabolome analyses. Since serine synthesized by PGDH has been suggested to play a role in gametogenesis in the angiosperm Arabidopsis thaliana, the physiological activity of serine is considered to have been essential for plant reproduction since about five hundred million years ago, when vascular plants and non-vascular plants (bryophyte) diverged in the course of evolution.

This is the first research worldwide to identify the metabolite involved in reproduction in Marchantia polymorpha, a non-vascular plant (bryophyte) that diverged from a common land plant ancestor,and has a potential to provide a new bridge to evolutionary systematics and metabolic physiology of the plant. It also provides insight into new functions of amino acids, which have been overlooked to date.

Original article
Communications biology doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-05746-6
M. Wang, H. Tabeta, K. Ohtaka, A. Kuwahara, R. Nishihama, T. Ishigawa, K. Toyooka, M. Sato, M. Wakazaki, H. Akashi, H. Tsugawa, T. Shoji, K. Takano, Y. Okazaki, K. Yoshida, R. Sato, A. Ferjani, T. Kohchi, M. Y. Hirai,,
"The phosphorylated pathway of serine biosynthesis affects sperm, embryo, and sporophyte development, and metabolism in Marchantia polymorpha".
Hiromitsu Tabeta; Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Masami Hirai; Team Leader
Metabolic Systems Research Team