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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2004 Feb 1;422(1):110-8.

Characterization of botryococcene synthase enzyme activity, a squalene synthase-like activity from the green microalga Botryococcus braunii, Race B.

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  • 1Laboratory of Marine Biochemistry, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


The extracellular matrix of the alga Botryococcus braunii, Race B, consists mainly of botryococcenes, which have potential as a hydrocarbon fuel. Botryococcenes are structurally similar to squalene raising the possibility of a common enzyme for the biosynthesis of both. While B. braunii squalene synthase (SS) enzyme activity has been documented, botryococcene synthase (BS) enzyme activity has not been. In the current study, an assay for BS activity has been developed and used to show that many of the assay conditions for BS enzyme activity are similar to those of SS. However, SS enzyme activity is stimulated by Tween 80 while BS enzyme activity is inhibited. Moreover, BS enzyme activity was correlated with the accumulation of botryococcenes during a B. braunii culture growth cycle, which was distinctly different from the profile of SS enzyme activity. While the current results indicate a conservation of enzymological features amongst the BS and SS enzymes, raising the possibility of one enzyme capable of catalyzing both activities, they are also consistent with these two activities arising from separate and distinct enzymes.

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