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Plant Cell. Apr 1998; 10(4): 613–622.
PMCID: PMC144012

Expression of lauroyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase in brassica napus seeds induces pathways for both fatty acid oxidation and biosynthesis and implies a set point for triacylglycerol accumulation


Expression of a California bay lauroyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase (MCTE) in developing seeds of transgenic oilseed rape alters the fatty acid composition of the mature seed, resulting in up to 60 mol% of laurate in triacylglycerols. In this study, we examined the metabolism of lauric acid and 14C-acetate in developing seeds of oilseed rape that express high levels of MCTE. Lauroyl-CoA oxidase activity but not palmitoyl-CoA oxidase activity was increased several-fold in developing seeds expressing MCTE. In addition, isocitrate lyase and malate synthase activities were six- and 30-fold higher, respectively, in high-laurate developing seeds. Control seeds incorporated 14C-acetate almost entirely into fatty acids, whereas in seeds expressing MCTE, only 50% of the label was recovered in lipids and the remainder was in a range of water-soluble components, including sucrose and malate. Together, these results indicate that the pathways for beta-oxidation and the glyoxylate cycle have been induced in seeds expressing high levels of MCTE. Although a substantial portion of the fatty acid produced in these seeds is recycled to acetyl-CoA and sucrose through the beta-oxidation and glyoxylate cycle pathways, total seed oil is not reduced. How is oil content maintained if lauric acid is inefficiently converted to triacylglycerol? The levels of acyl carrier protein and several enzymes of fatty acid synthesis were increased two- to threefold at midstage development in high-laurate seeds. These results indicate that a coordinate induction of the fatty acid synthesis pathway occurs, presumably to compensate for the lauric acid lost through beta-oxidation or for a shortage of long-chain fatty acids.

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Selected References

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