Lectin-stimulated cellular iron uptake and toxin generation in the freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa

Tomoko Takaara, Shiori Sasaki, Manabu Fujii, Hiroaki Ito, Yoshifumi Masago, Tatsuo Omura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The lectin family is composed of mono- and oligosaccharide binding proteins that could activate specific cellular activities, such as cell-cell attachment and toxin production. In the present study, the effect of the external addition of lectins to culture media containing the freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa on its metabolic activities, such as iron uptake and toxin production was investigated. Among the three lectins examined in this study (concanavalin A [Con A], wheat germ agglutinin [WGA] and peanut agglutinin [PNA]), PNA substantially increased the accumulated intracellular and extracellular iron content. The binding of PNA and Con A to M. aeruginosa cells was visualized via fluorescence microscopy using a lectin adjunct with fluorescein isothiocyanate, and resulted in carbohydrate and protein accumulation in the cellular capsule. Given that the highest carbohydrate accumulation was seen in the Con A system (where iron accumulation was relatively lower), carbohydrate quality is likely important factor that influences cellular iron accumulation. Since PNA specifically binds to sugars such as galactose and N-acetylgalactosamine, these saccharide species could be important candidates for intracellular and extracellular iron accumulation and transport. Microcystin biosynthesis was stimulated in the presence of PNA and WGA, whereas cellular iron uptake increased only in the presence of PNA. Thus, the iron uptake was not necessarily congruent with the upregulation of microcystin synthesis, which suggested that the positive effect of lectin on iron uptake is probably attributable to the PNA-assisted iron accumulation around the cell surface. Overall, the present study provides insights into the interactions of lectin that influence cellular metabolic activities such as iron uptake, extracellular polymeric substance accumulation, and toxin production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalHarmful Algae
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Iron uptake
  • Lectin
  • Microcystis aeruginosa
  • Polysaccharide
  • Toxin production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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