Ectopic Expression of Arabidopsis Phospholipase A Genes Elucidates Role of Phospholipase Bs in S. cerevisiae Cells

Meng Zhang, Yan Zhang, E. Michael Giblin, David C Taylor*
National Research Council of Canada, Plant Biotechnology Institute, 110 Gymnasium Place, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W9, Canada

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© ó (2009) NRC Canada; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the NRCC-PBI, 110 Gymnasium Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 0W9, E-mail:


In S. cerevisiae neither disruption of the phospholipase B triple knockout mutant (plb1plb2plb3; plb123) nor over-expression of phospholipase Bs (PLBs) result in a phenotype different from wild type. In performing experiments to characterize candidate plant phospholipase (PLA) genes, we found, surprisingly, that ectopic expression of either of two different A. thaliana PLA2 or PLA1 genes in the yeast plb123 mutant completely inhibited cell growth. We proposed that while PLBs might not be essential for growth and metabolism of yeast cells, they may play an important role in cell survival by metabolizing excess intracellular lysophospholipids. To test our hypothesis, we overexpressed a plant phospholipase A2 (PLA2) in both WT and plb123 cells, producing a pool of lysophosphatidylcholine (lysoPtdCho) in both transformants. In 14C acetate labeling experiments, WT cells were able to catabolize the resultant labeled lysoPtdCho, preventing accumulation, and the cells grew normally. In contrast, in the triple plb123 mutant PLA2 transformant, lysoPtDCho accumulated more than 4-fold to a toxic level, inhibiting cell growth. However, this growth inhibition was complemented by co-expression of either PLB1, PLB2 or PLB3 in the plb123 triple mutant already expressing the plant PLA2. Furthermore, in labeling experiments, the rescued cells exhibited a 60-75% reduction in 14C-lysoPtdCho build-up compared to plb123PLA2 cells. Our data provides conclusive evidence that yeast PLBs can metabolize intracellular lysoPtdCho produced by plant PLA2 overexpression in yeast. Our experiments indicate the utility of ectopic plant phospholipase A gene expression to characterize poorly-understood phospholipid metabolism mutants in yeast or other organisms.

Keywords: Arabidopsis Phospholipase A2 - Phospholipase B. Phospholipase B mutants, Lysophosphatidylcholine, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.