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Gene Review

fabA  -  beta-hydroxydecanoyl thioester dehydrase

Escherichia coli str. K-12 substr. MG1655

Synonyms: ECK0945, JW0937
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Disease relevance of fabA

  • The FadR protein of E. coli activates transcription of the fabA gene, a key enzyme of fatty acid synthesis [1].
  • However, there are a number of anaerobic bacteria whose genomes do not contain a fabA homolog, although these organisms nonetheless produce unsaturated fatty acids [2].
  • The Pseudomonas aeruginosa fabA and fabB genes, encoding beta-hydroxyacyl-acyl carrier protein dehydratase and beta-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein synthase I, respectively, were cloned, sequenced, and expressed in Escherichia coli [3].

High impact information on fabA

  • We report that FadR binds to a DNA sequence positioned at -40 relative to the start site of the FadR-regulated fabA transcript (the location favored by positive activators) [1].
  • However, the fabA and fabB genes are found only in the Gram-negative alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria, and thus other anaerobic bacteria must synthesize these acids using different enzymes [4].
  • A synthetic primer complementary to a portion of the inverted repeat sequences at the ends of the transposon was used to prime DNA synthesis into the flanking fabA sequences [5].
  • We demonstrated repression of fadL transcription and activation of fabA transcription in vitro using run-off transcription assays containing purified FadR and RNA polymerase [6].
  • Overall, these experiments demonstrated that the affinity of FadR binding for DNA containing the fadB, fadL and fabA promoters was OB > OL1, OL2 > OA [6].

Biological context of fabA

  • The FadR-responsive operator within fabA, OA, was localized to a region -47 to -31 base pairs relative to the start of transcription using DNase I protection studies [6].
  • Subcloning and physical mapping localized the new gene (called sfa for suppressor of fabA) at 1,070 kb on the E. coli chromosome [7].
  • Strains containing both fabB and fadR mutant alleles were constructed and shown to exhibit synthetic lethal phenotypes, similar to those observed in fabA fadR mutants [8].
  • Northern analysis demonstrated that fabA and fabB are cotranscribed and most probably form a fabAB operon [3].

Associations of fabA with chemical compounds

  • A temperature-sensitive fabA mutant was obtained by site-directed mutagenesis of a single base that induced a G101D change; this mutant grew normally at 30 degrees C but not at 42 degrees C, unless the growth medium was supplemented with oleate [3].

Other interactions of fabA

  • The growth phase-dependent increased and decreased transcription of fad genes and fabA, respectively, is dependent on the status of the fadR gene [9].
  • The fabR::kan strains had 4- to 8-fold higher levels of fabB and a 2- to 3-fold increase in fabA transcripts as judged by Northern blotting, Affymetrix array analysis, and real-time PCR [10].


  1. A new mechanism of transcriptional regulation: release of an activator triggered by small molecule binding. Henry, M.F., Cronan, J.E. Cell (1992) [Pubmed]
  2. A new mechanism for anaerobic unsaturated fatty acid formation in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Marrakchi, H., Choi, K.H., Rock, C.O. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
  3. Fatty acid biosynthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: cloning and characterization of the fabAB operon encoding beta-hydroxyacyl-acyl carrier protein dehydratase (FabA) and beta-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein synthase I (FabB). Hoang, T.T., Schweizer, H.P. J. Bacteriol. (1997) [Pubmed]
  4. Functional replacement of the FabA and FabB proteins of Escherichia coli fatty acid synthesis by Enterococcus faecalis FabZ and FabF homologues. Wang, H., Cronan, J.E. J. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
  5. Derived amino acid sequence and identification of active site residues of Escherichia coli beta-hydroxydecanoyl thioester dehydrase. Cronan, J.E., Li, W.B., Coleman, R., Narasimhan, M., de Mendoza, D., Schwab, J.M. J. Biol. Chem. (1988) [Pubmed]
  6. Regulation of transcription of genes required for fatty acid transport and unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli by FadR. DiRusso, C.C., Metzger, A.K., Heimert, T.L. Mol. Microbiol. (1993) [Pubmed]
  7. Increased unsaturated fatty acid production associated with a suppressor of the fabA6(Ts) mutation in Escherichia coli. Rock, C.O., Tsay, J.T., Heath, R., Jackowski, S. J. Bacteriol. (1996) [Pubmed]
  8. Escherichia coli FadR positively regulates transcription of the fabB fatty acid biosynthetic gene. Campbell, J.W., Cronan, J.E. J. Bacteriol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  9. Role of the Escherichia coli FadR regulator in stasis survival and growth phase-dependent expression of the uspA, fad, and fab genes. Farewell, A., Diez, A.A., DiRusso, C.C., Nyström, T. J. Bacteriol. (1996) [Pubmed]
  10. The FabR (YijC) transcription factor regulates unsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli. Zhang, Y.M., Marrakchi, H., Rock, C.O. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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