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Plant Physiol. 2002 Aug;129(4):1616-26.

A role for diacylglycerol acyltransferase during leaf senescence.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1.


Lipid analysis of rosette leaves from Arabidopsis has revealed an accumulation of triacylglycerol (TAG) with advancing leaf senescence coincident with an increase in the abundance and size of plastoglobuli. The terminal step in the biosynthesis of TAG in Arabidopsis is catalyzed by diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1; EC When gel blots of RNA isolated from rosette leaves at various stages of development were probed with the Arabidopsis expressed sequence tag clone, E6B2T7, which has been annotated as DGAT1, a steep increase in DGAT1 transcript levels was evident in the senescing leaves coincident with the accumulation of TAG. The increase in DGAT1 transcript correlated temporally with enhanced levels of DGAT1 protein detected immunologically. Two lines of evidence indicated that the TAG of senescing leaves is synthesized in chloroplasts and sequesters fatty acids released from the catabolism of thylakoid galactolipids. First, TAG isolated from senescing leaves proved to be enriched in hexadecatrienoic acid (16:3) and linolenic acid (18:3), which are normally present in thylakoid galactolipids. Second, DGAT1 protein in senescing leaves was found to be associated with chloroplast membranes. These findings collectively indicate that diacylglycerol acyltransferase plays a role in senescence by sequestering fatty acids de-esterified from galactolipids into TAG. This would appear to be an intermediate step in the conversion of thylakoid fatty acids to phloem-mobile sucrose during leaf senescence.

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