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FEBS Lett. 2003 May 8;542(1-3):100-4.

Identification of primula fatty acid delta 6-desaturases with n-3 substrate preferences.

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  • 1Long Ashton Research Station, Long Ashton, Bristol BS41 9AF, UK. olga.sayanova@bbsrc.ac.uk


Fatty acid Delta(6)-desaturation, the first committed step in C(20) polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis, is generally considered not to discriminate between n-3 and n-6 substrates. We previously identified higher plant species that showed preferential Delta(6)-desaturation of n-3 C(18) fatty acid substrates. A polymerase chain reaction-based approach was used to isolate 'front-end' cytochrome b(5) fusion desaturases from Primula vialii Franchet and Primula farinosa L. Functional analysis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae identified fatty acid Delta(6)-desaturases with a strong specificity for the n-3 substrate alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 Delta(9,12,15)). These results indicate that the accumulation of octadecatetraenoic acid (18:4 Delta(6,9,12,15)) in planta is due to the activity of a novel n-3-specific fatty acid Delta(6)-desaturase.

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