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J Biol Chem. 2008 Dec 26;283(52):36734-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M807264200. Epub 2008 Nov 3.

Identification and functional characterization of the 2-hydroxy fatty N-acyl-Delta3(E)-desaturase from Fusarium graminearum.

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Biocenter Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststr. 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany.


Delta3(E)-unsaturated fatty acids are characteristic components of glycosylceramides from some fungi, including also human- and plant-pathogenic species. The function and genetic basis for this unsaturation is unknown. For Fusarium graminearum, which is pathogenic to grasses and cereals, we could show that the level of Delta3-unsaturation of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) was highest at low temperatures and decreased when the fungus was grown above 28 degrees C. With a bioinformatics approach, we identified a new family of polypeptides carrying the histidine box motifs characteristic for membrane-bound desaturases. One of the corresponding genes was functionally characterized as a sphingolipid-Delta3(E)-desaturase. Deletion of the candidate gene in F. graminearum resulted in loss of the Delta3(E)-double bond in the fatty acyl moiety of GlcCer. Heterologous expression of the corresponding cDNA from F. graminearum in the yeast Pichia pastoris led to the formation of Delta3(E)-unsaturated GlcCer.

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