Under exposure to UV radiation, some cyanobacteria synthesize sunscreen compounds. Scytonemin is a heterocyclic indole-alkaloid sunscreen, the synthesis of which is induced upon exposure to UVA (long-wavelength UV) radiation. We previously identified and characterized an 18-gene cluster associated with scytonemin biosynthesis in the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133; we now report on the expression response of these genes to a step-up shift in UVA exposure. Using quantitative PCR on cDNAs from the N. punctiforme transcriptome and primers targeting each of the 18 genes in the cluster, we followed their differential expression in parallel subcultures incubated with and without UVA. All 18 genes are induced by UVA irradiation, with relative transcription levels that generally peak after 48 h of continuous UVA exposure. A five-gene cluster implicated in the process of scytonemin biosynthesis solely on the basis of comparative genomics was also upregulated. Furthermore, we demonstrate that all of the genes in the18-gene region are cotranscribed as part of a single transcriptional unit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology