Thesis defense: Milène Nitenberg

on the November 26, 2018

Milène Nitenberg from Cermav will defend her thesis: "Biosynthesis of plant galactolipids: a structural and functional study of MGDG synthase 1 (MGD1) from Arabidopsis thaliana".
The membranes of chloroplasts are enriched in monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG), two essential galactolipids to the biogenesis of these organelles and the functioning of photosynthetic machinery. MGD1 is the major galactolipid synthase in Arabidopsis thaliana. It is a monotopic protein, located in the inner envelope of chloroplast membranes, which transfers a galactosyl residue from UDP-galactose to diacylglycerol (DAG) to form MGDG. MGD1 needs anionic lipids such as phosphatidylglycerol (PG) to be active, but the activation mechanism is still unknown. Previous studies identified the P189 residue as potentially involved in PG binding, and H155 as the putative catalytic base. The aim of my thesis was to progress in our understanding of the regulation of MGD1 activity, a key enzyme in the biogenesis of chloroplasts. My study focused on the native protein MGD1 and two mutants, H155A and P189A. These proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. A new method for assaying MGDG synthase activity, adapted from the Promega UDP-GloTM bioluminescent technique has been developed. This method has many advantages in terms of speed and sensitivity compared to the conventionally used technique which requires the use of a radiolabeled UDP-Galactose. Furthermore, the study of the association properties of MGD1 and mutants with model membranes, using the Langmuir monolayer technique, led us to propose a novel reaction mechanism, involving a PG-His type catalytic dyad, which may explain the role of PG as activator. A new activity test, based on the Langmuir technique, which has the advantage to discriminate the MGD1 binding capacity to the membrane and its ability to transfer a galactose to its acceptor DAG has been set up. This is the first example of galactolipid synthesis on a biomimetic membrane formed of a DAG-PG mixture.


Published on January 31, 2019

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