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Plant Cell. Jan 1994; 6(1): 147–158.
PMCID: PMC160423

Arabidopsis FAD2 gene encodes the enzyme that is essential for polyunsaturated lipid synthesis.


The polyunsaturated fatty acids linoleate and alpha-linolenate are important membrane components and are the essential fatty acids of human nutrition. The major enzyme responsible for the synthesis of these compounds is the plant oleate desaturase of the endoplasmic reticulum, and its activity is controlled in Arabidopsis by the fatty acid desaturation 2 (fad2) locus. A fad2 allele was identified in a population of Arabidopsis in which mutations had been created by T-DNA insertions. Genomic DNA flanking the T-DNA was cloned by plasmid rescue and used to isolate cDNA and genomic clones of FAD2. A cDNA containing the entire FAD2 coding sequence was expressed in fad2 mutant plants and shown to complement the mutant fatty acid phenotype. The deduced amino acid sequence from the cDNA showed homology to other plant desaturases, and this confirmed that FAD2 is the structural gene for the desaturase. Gel blot analyses of FAD2 mRNA levels showed that the gene is expressed throughout the plant and suggest that transcript levels are in excess of the amount needed to account for oleate desaturation. Sequence analysis identified histidine-rich motifs that could contribute to an iron binding site in the cytoplasmic domain of the protein. Such a position would facilitate interaction between the desaturase and cytochrome b5, which is the direct source of electrons for the desaturation reaction, but would limit interaction of the active site with the fatty acyl substrate.

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Selected References

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