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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 7;278(10):8075-82. Epub 2002 Dec 26.

A novel bifunctional wax ester synthase/acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase mediates wax ester and triacylglycerol biosynthesis in Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ADP1.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Corrensstr. 3, Germany.


Triacylglycerols (TAGs) and wax esters are neutral lipids with considerable importance for dietetic, technical, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications. Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ADP1 accumulates wax esters and TAGs as intracellular storage lipids. We describe here the identification of a bifunctional enzyme from this bacterium exhibiting acyl-CoA:fatty alcohol acyltransferase (wax ester synthase, WS) as well as acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) activity. Experiments with a knock-out mutant demonstrated the key role of the bifunctional WS/DGAT for biosynthesis of both storage lipids in A. calcoaceticus. This novel type of long-chain acyl-CoA acyltransferase is not related to known acyltransferases including the WS from jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), the DGAT1 or DGAT2 families present in yeast, plants, and animals, and the phospholipid:diacylglycerol acyltransferase catalyzing TAG formation in yeast and plants. A large number of WS/DGAT-related proteins were identified in Mycobacterium and Arabidopsis thaliana indicating an important function of these proteins. WS and DGAT activity was demonstrated for the translational product of one WS/DGAT homologous gene from M. smegmatis mc(2)155. The potential of WS/DGAT to establish novel processes for biotechnological production of jojoba-like wax esters was demonstrated by heterologous expression in recombinant Pseudomonas citronellolis. The potential of WS/DGAT as a selective therapeutic target of mycobacterial infections is discussed.

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