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Prog Lipid Res. 2004 Mar;43(2):91-104.

Regulation of stearoyl-CoA desaturases and role in metabolism.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, 433 Babcock Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) is the rate-limiting enzyme catalyzing the synthesis of monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleate (18:1) and palmitoleate (16:1). These represent the major monounsaturated fatty acids of membrane phospholipids, triglycerides, wax esters and cholesterol esters. The ratio of saturated to monounsaturated fatty acids affects phospholipid composition and alteration in this ratio has been implicated in a variety of disease states including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, neurological disease, and cancer. For this reason, the expression of SCD is of physiological significance in both normal and disease states. Several SCD gene isoforms (SCD1, SCD2, SCD3) exist in the mouse and one SCD isoform that is highly homologous to the mouse SCD1 is well characterized in human. The physiological role of each SCD isoform and the reason for having three or more SCD gene isoforms in the rodent genome are currently unknown but could be related the substrate specificities of the isomers and their regulation through tissue-specific expression. The recent studies of asebia mouse strains that have a natural mutation in the SCD1 gene and a mouse model with a targeted disruption of the SCD1 gene have provided clues concerning the role that SCD1 and its endogenous products play in the regulation of metabolism.

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