Journal Article

A Front-end Desaturase from <i>Chlamydomonas reinhardtii</i> Produces Pinolenic and Coniferonic Acids by ω13 Desaturation in Methylotrophic Yeast and Tobacco

Masataka Kajikawa, Katsuyuki T. Yamato, Yoshito Kohzu, Shin-ichiro Shoji, Keisuke Matsui, Yoshikazu Tanaka, Yasuyoshi Sakai and Hideya Fukuzawa

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 47, issue 1, pages 64-73
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:
A Front-end Desaturase from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Produces Pinolenic and Coniferonic Acids by ω13 Desaturation in Methylotrophic Yeast and Tobacco

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Pinolenic acid (PA; 18:3Δ5,9,12) and coniferonic acid (CA; 18:4Δ5,9,12,15) are Δ5-unsaturated bis-methylene-interrupted fatty acids (Δ5-UBIFAs) commonly found in pine seed oil. They are assumed to be synthesized from linoleic acid (LA; 18:2Δ9,12) and α-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3Δ9,12,15), respectively, by Δ5-desaturation. A unicellular green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii also accumulates PA and CA in a betain lipid. The expressed sequence tag (EST) resource of C. reinhardtii led to the isolation of a cDNA clone that encoded a putative fatty acid desaturase named as CrDES containing a cytochrome b5 domain at the N-terminus. When the coding sequence was expressed heterologously in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris, PA and CA were newly detected and comparable amounts of LA and ALA were reduced, demonstrating that CrDES has Δ5-desaturase activity for both LA and ALA. CrDES expressed in the yeast showed Δ5-desaturase activity on 18:1Δ9 but not 18:1Δ11. Unexpectedly, CrDES also showed Δ7-desaturase activity on 20:2Δ11,14 and 20:3Δ11,14,17 to produce 20:3Δ7,11,14 and 20:4Δ7,11,14,17, respectively. Since both the Δ5 bond in C18 and the Δ7 bond in C20 fatty acids are ‘ω13’ double bonds, these results indicate that CrDES has ω13 desaturase activity for ω9 unsaturated C18/C20 fatty acids, in contrast to the previously reported front-end desaturases. In order to evaluate the activity of CrDES in higher plants, transgenic tobacco plants expressing CrDES were created. PA and CA accumulated in the leaves of transgenic plants. The highest combined yield of PA and CA was 44.7% of total fatty acids, suggesting that PA and CA can be produced in higher plants on a large scale.

Keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; Δ5-Unsaturated bis-methylene-interrupted fatty acids; Fatty acid desaturase; Pichia pastoris; Tobacco plant; AA, arachidonic acid; ALA, α-linolenic acid; CA, coniferonic acid; CrDES, Chlamydomonas rheinhardti desaturase; DGLA, dihomo γ-linolenic acid; DGTS, diacylglyceryl (N,N,N-trimethyl) homoserine; DLA, dihomo linoleic acid; DPA, dihomo pinolenic acid; EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid; EST, expressed sequence tag; ETA, eicosatetraenoic acid; FAME, fatty acid methyl ester; GC–MS, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; GLA, γ-linolenic acid; LA, linoleic acid; ORF, open reading frame; PA, pinolenic acid; PC, phosphatidylcholine; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PUFA, polyunsaturated fatty acid; TA, taxoleic acid; UBIFA, unsaturated bis-methylene-interrupted fatty acid

Journal Article.  7917 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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