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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Jun;23(3):352-63. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.12.001. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

TAG, you're it! Chlamydomonas as a reference organism for understanding algal triacylglycerol accumulation.

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  • 1Institute for Genomics and Proteomics and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States. merchant@chem.ucla.edu

Abstract

Photosynthetic organisms are responsible for converting sunlight into organic matter, and they are therefore seen as a resource for the renewable fuel industry. Ethanol and esterified fatty acids (biodiesel) are the most common fuel products derived from these photosynthetic organisms. The potential of algae as producers of biodiesel precursor (or triacylglycerols (TAGs)) has yet to be realized because of the limited knowledge of the underlying biochemistry, cell biology and genetics. Well-characterized pathways from fungi and land plants have been used to identify algal homologs of key enzymes in TAG synthesis, including diacylglcyerol acyltransferases, phospholipid diacylglycerol acyltransferase and phosphatidate phosphatases. Many laboratories have adopted Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a reference organism for discovery of algal-specific adaptations of TAG metabolism. Stressed Chlamydomonas cells, grown either photoautotrophically or photoheterotrophically, accumulate TAG in plastid and cytoplasmic lipid bodies, reaching 46-65% of dry weight in starch accumulation (sta) mutants. State of the art genomic technologies including expression profiling and proteomics have identified new proteins, including key components of lipid droplets, candidate regulators and lipid/TAG degrading activities. By analogy with crop plants, it is expected that advances in algal breeding and genome engineering may facilitate realizing the potential in algae.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22209109
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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