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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6361-6. Epub 2004 Apr 5.

Functional expression of a Delta12 fatty acid desaturase gene from spinach in transgenic pigs.

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  • 1Institute of Advanced Technology, Kinki University, Kainan, Wakayama 642-0017, Japan. saeki@gene.waka.kindai.ac.jp


Linoleic acid (18:2n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for mammalian nutrition, because mammals lack the desaturases required for synthesis of Delta12 (n-6) and n-3 fatty acids. Many plants can synthesize these fatty acids and, therefore, to examine the effects of a plant desaturase in mammals, we generated transgenic pigs that carried the fatty acid desaturation 2 gene for a Delta12 fatty acid desaturase from spinach. Levels of linoleic acid (18:2n-6) in adipocytes that had differentiated in vitro from cells derived from the transgenic pigs were approximately 10 times higher than those from wild-type pigs. In addition, the white adipose tissue of transgenic pigs contained approximately 20% more linoleic acid (18:2n-6) than that of wild-type pigs. These results demonstrate the functional expression of a plant gene for a fatty acid desaturase in mammals, opening up the possibility of modifying the fatty acid composition of products from domestic animals by transgenic technology, using plant genes for fatty acid desaturases.

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