Dinoflagellates, a major class of marine eukaryote microalgae composing the phytoplankton, are widely recognised as producers of a large variety of toxic molecules, particularly neurotoxins, which can also act as potent bioactive pharmacological mediators. In addition, similarly to other microalgae, they are also good producers of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), important precursors of key molecules involved in cell physiology. Among PUFA derivatives are the prostaglandins (Pgs), important physiological mediators in several physiological and pathological processes in humans, also used as “biological” drugs. Their synthesis is very expensive because of the elevated number of reaction steps required, thus the search for new Pgs production methods is of great relevance. One possibility is their extraction from microorganisms (e.g., diatoms), which have been proved to produce the same Pgs as humans. In the present study, we took advantage of the available transcriptomes for dinoflagellates in the iMicrobe database to search for the Pgs biosynthetic pathway using a bioinformatic approach. Here we show that dinoflagellates express nine Pg-metabolism related enzymes involved in both Pgs synthesis and reduction. Not all of the enzymes were expressed simultaneously in all the species analysed and their expression was influenced by culturing conditions, especially salinity of the growth medium. These results confirm the existence of a biosynthetic pathway for these important molecules in unicellular microalgae other than diatoms, suggesting a broad diffusion and conservation of the Pgs pathway, which further strengthen their importance in living organisms.
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