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Summary

The plasmid hik31 operon (P3, slr6039-slr6041) is located on the pSYSX plasmid in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. A P3 mutant (ΔP3) had a growth defect in the dark and a pigment defect that was worsened by the addition of glucose. The glucose defect was from incomplete metabolism of the substrate, was pH dependent, and completely overcome by the addition of bicarbonate. Addition of organic carbon and nitrogen sources partly alleviated the defects of the mutant in the dark. Electron micrographs of the mutant revealed larger cells with division defects, glycogen limitation, lack of carboxysomes, deteriorated thylakoids and accumulation of polyhydroxybutyrate and cyanophycin. A microarray experiment over two days of growth in light-dark plus glucose revealed downregulation of several photosynthesis, amino acid biosynthesis, energy metabolism genes; and an upregulation of cell envelope and transport and binding genes in the mutant. ΔP3 had an imbalance in carbon and nitrogen levels and many sugar catabolic and cell division genes were negatively affected after the first dark period. The mutant suffered from oxidative and osmotic stress, macronutrient limitation, and an energy deficit. Therefore, the P3 operon is an important regulator of central metabolism and cell division in the dark.