Photooxidative stress-inducible orange and pink water-soluble astaxanthin-binding proteins in eukaryotic microalga

Kawasaki, Shinji, et al. “Photooxidative Stress-Inducible Orange and Pink Water-Soluble Astaxanthin-Binding Proteins in Eukaryotic Microalga.” Communications Biology, no. 1, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, Sept. 2020. Crossref, doi:10.1038/s42003-020-01206-7.


Lipid astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant known as a natural sunscreen, accumulates in eukaryotic microalgae and confers photoprotection. We previously identified a photooxidative stress-inducible water-soluble astaxanthin-binding carotenoprotein (AstaP) in a eukaryotic microalga (Coelastrella astaxanthina Ki-4) isolated from an extreme environment. The distribution in eukaryotic microalgae remains unknown. Here we identified three novel AstaP orthologs in a eukaryotic microalga, Scenedesmus sp. Oki-4N. The purified proteins, named AstaP-orange2, AstaP-pink1, and AstaP-pink2, were identified as secreted fasciclin proteins with potent 1O2 quenching activity in aqueous solution, which are characteristics shared with Ki-4 AstaP. Nonetheless, the absence of glycosylation in the AstaP-pinks, the presence of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor motif in AstaP-orange2, and highly acidic isoelectric points (pI = 3.6–4.7), differed significantly from that of AstaP-orange1 (pI = 10.5). These results provide unique examples on the use of water-soluble forms of astaxanthin in photosynthetic organisms as novel strategies for protecting single cells against severe photooxidative stresses.