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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of the final step in the conversion of phytol into phytanic acid.

Phytol is a branched-chain fatty alcohol that is a naturally occurring precursor of phytanic acid, a fatty acid involved in the pathogenesis of Refsum disease. The conversion of phytol into phytanic acid is generally believed to take place via three enzymatic steps that involve 1) oxidation to its aldehyde, 2) further oxidation to phytenic acid, and 3) reduction of the double bond at the 2,3 position, yielding phytanic acid. Our recent investigations of this mechanism have elucidated the enzymatic steps leading to phytenic acid production, but the final step of the pathway has not been investigated so far. In this study, we describe the characterization of phytenic acid reduction in rat liver. NADPH-dependent conversion of phytenic acid into phytanic acid was detected, although at a slow rate. However, it was shown that phytenic acid can be activated to its CoA ester and that reduction of phytenoyl-CoA is much more efficient than that of phytenic acid. Furthermore, in rat hepatocytes cultured in the presence of phytol, phytenoyl-CoA could be detected, showing that it is a bona fide intermediate of phytol degradation. Subcellular fractionation experiments revealed that phytenoyl-CoA reductase activity is present in peroxisomes and mitochondria. With these findings, we have accomplished the full elucidation of the mechanism by which phytol is converted into phytanic acid.[1]


  1. Characterization of the final step in the conversion of phytol into phytanic acid. van den Brink, D.M., van Miert, J.N., Dacremont, G., Rontani, J.F., Wanders, R.J. J. Biol. Chem. (2005) [Pubmed]
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