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

Substrate specificity of acyl-Delta(6)-desaturases from Continental versus Macaronesian Echium species.

Echium (Boraginaceae) species from the Macaronesian islands exhibit an unusually high level of gamma-linolenic acid (18:3n-6; GLA) and relatively low content of octadecatetraenoic acid (18:4n-3; OTA) in the seed, while the amounts of both fatty acids in their Continental (European) relatives are rather similar. We have tested the hypothesis of whether a different specificity of the acyl-Delta(6)-desaturases (D6DES) towards their respective usual substrates, linoleic acid (18:2n-6; LA) for GLA and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3; ALA) for OTA, was partly responsible for this composition pattern. To this aim we have expressed in yeast the coding sequences of the D6DES genes for the Continental species Echium sabulicola, and the Macaronesian Echium gentianoides. When the yeast cultures are supplemented with the two fatty acid substrates (LA and ALA), a similar utilization of both compounds was found for the D6DES of E. sabulicola, while a preference for LA over ALA was observed for the enzyme of E. gentianoides. This substrate preference must contribute to the increased accumulation of GLA in the seeds of the Macaronesian Echium species. Comparison among the amino acid sequences of these desaturases and other related enzymes, allowed us the discussion about the possible involvement of some specific positions in the determination of substrate specificity.[1]


  1. Substrate specificity of acyl-Delta(6)-desaturases from Continental versus Macaronesian Echium species. García-Maroto, F., Mañas-Fernández, A., Garrido-Cárdenas, J.A., Alonso, D.L. Phytochemistry (2006) [Pubmed]
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