Metabolomic profiles in a green alga (Raphidocelis subcapitata) following erythromycin treatment: ABC transporters and energy metabolism

Jiahua Guo , Jiezhang Mo , Zhihua Ma , Shiwei Yan , Napo KM Cheung , Fangshe Yang , Xiunan Yao


Received July 29, 2021,Revised , Accepted December 01, 2021, Available online February 23, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 591-601

A recent study showed that erythromycin (ERY) exposure caused hormesis in a model alga (Raphidocelis subcapitata) where the growth was promoted at an environmentally realistic concentration (4 µg/L) but inhibited at two higher concentrations (80 and 120 µg/L), associated with opposite actions of certain signaling pathways (e.g., xenobiotic metabolism, DNA replication). However, these transcriptional alterations remain to be investigated and verified at the metabolomic level. This study uncovered metabolomic profiles and detailed toxic mechanisms of ERY in R. subcapitata using untargeted metabolomics. The metabolomic analysis showed that metabolomic pathways including ABC transporters, fatty acid biosynthesis and purine metabolism were associated with growth promotion in algae treated with 4 µg/L ERY. An overcompensation was possibly activated by the low level of ERY in algae where more resources were reallocated to efficiently restore the temporary impairments, ultimately leading to the outperformance of growth. By contrast, algal growth inhibition in the 80 and 120 µg/L ERY treatments was likely attributed to the dysfunction of metabolomic pathways related to ABC transporters, energy metabolism and metabolism of nucleosides. Apart from binding of ERY to the 50S subunit of ribosomes to inhibit protein translation as in bacteria, the data presented here indicate that inhibition of protein translation and growth performance of algae by ERY may also result from the suppression of amino acid biosynthesis and aminoacyl-tRNA biosynthesis. This study provides novel insights into the dose-dependent toxicity of ERY on R. subcapitata.

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