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Lipids. 2007 Mar;42(2):97-108. Epub 2007 Feb 13.

Enhancing vitamin E in oilseeds: unraveling tocopherol and tocotrienol biosynthesis.

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  • 1United States Department of Agriculture, ARS, Plant Genetics Research Unit, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 North Warson Road, Saint Louis, MO 63132, USA.


Naturally occurring vitamin E, comprised of four forms each of tocopherols and tocotrienols, are synthesized solely by photosynthetic organisms and function primarily as antioxidants. These different forms vary in their biological availability and in their physiological and chemical activities. Tocopherols and tocotrienols play important roles in the oxidative stability of vegetable oils and in the nutritional quality of crop plants for human and livestock diets. The isolation of genes for nearly all the steps in tocopherol and tocotrienol biosynthesis has facilitated efforts to alter metabolic flux through these pathways in plant cells. Herein we review the recent work done in the field, focusing on branch points and metabolic engineering to enhance and alter vitamin E content and composition in oilseed crops.

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