, Volume 249, Issue 5, pp 1319–1336 | Cite as

Sustained substrate cycles between hexose phosphates and free sugars in phosphate-deficient potato (Solanum tuberosum) cell cultures

  • Jiang Zhou He
  • Sonia Dorion
  • Mélanie Lacroix
  • Jean RivoalEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

Futile cycling between free sugars and hexose phosphates occurring under phosphate deficiency could be involved in the maintenance of a threshold level of free cellular phosphate to preserve respiratory metabolism.

We studied the metabolic response of potato cell cultures growing in Pi sufficient (2.5 mM, +Pi) or deficient (125 µM, −Pi) conditions. Under Pi deficiency, cellular growth was severely affected, however −Pi cells were able to maintain a low but steady level of free Pi. We surveyed the activities of 33 primary metabolic enzymes during the course of a 12 days Pi deficiency period. Our results show that many of these enzymes had higher specific activity in –Pi cells. Among these, we found typical markers of Pi deficiency such as phosphoenolpyruvate phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase as well as enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of organic acids. Intriguingly, several ATP-consuming enzymes such as hexokinase (HK) and phosphofructokinase also displayed increased activity in –Pi condition. For HK, this was associated with an increase in the steady state of a specific HK polypeptide. Quantification of glycolytic intermediates showed a pronounced decrease in phosphate esters under Pi deficiency. Adenylate levels also decreased in –Pi cells, but the Adenylate Energy Charge was not affected by the treatment. To investigate the significance of HK induction under low Pi, [U-14C]-glucose tracer studies were conducted. We found in vivo evidence of futile cycling between pools of hexose phosphates and free sugars under Pi deficiency. Our study suggests that the futile cycling between hexose phosphates and free sugars which is active under +Pi conditions is sustained under Pi deficiency. The possibility that this process represents a metabolic adaptation to Pi deficiency is discussed with respect to Pi homeostasis in Pi-deficient conditions.


Phosphate deficiency Plant Cell culture Futile cycle Metabolic adaptation Homeostasis 



This work was supported by a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery grant to Jean Rivoal. Jiang Zhou He was partly funded by scholarships from the Chinese Scholarship Council and FRQNT. The authors wish to thank Dr. WC Plaxton (Queen’s University) for the gift of anti-PEPC antibody.

Supplementary material

425_2019_3088_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (525 kb)
Supplementary file1 (PDF 525 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Recherche en Biologie VégétaleUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

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