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Plant Physiol. 1997 Mar;113(3):933-42.

Accumulation of ricinoleic, lesquerolic, and densipolic acids in seeds of transgenic Arabidopsis plants that express a fatty acyl hydroxylase cDNA from castor bean.

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  • 1Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


A cDNA encoding the oleate 12-hydroxylase from castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) has previously been shown to direct the synthesis of small amounts of ricinoleic acid (12-hydroxyoctadec-cis-9-enoic acid) in seeds of transgenic tobacco plants. Expression of the cDNA under control of the Brassica napus napin promoter in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants resulted in the accumulation of up to 17% of seed fatty acids as ricinoleate and two novel fatty acids that have been identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as lesquerolic (14-hydroxyeicos-cis-11-enoic acid) and densipolic (12-hydroxyoctadec-cis-9,15-dienoic acid) acids. Traces of auricolic acid were also observed. These results suggest that either the castor hydroxylase can utilize oleic acid and eicosenoic acid as substrates for ricinoleic and lesquerolic acid biosynthesis, respectively, or Arabidopsis contains an elongase that accepts ricinoleic acid as a substrate. These observations are also consistent with indirect biochemical evidence that an n-3 desaturase is capable of converting ricinoleic acid to densipolic acid. Expression of the castor hydroxylase also caused enhanced accumulation of oleic acid and a corresponding decrease in the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Since the steady-state level of mRNA for the oleate-12 desaturase was not affected, it appears that the presence of the hydroxylase, directly or indirectly, causes posttranscriptional inhibition of desaturation.

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