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J Biotechnol. 2012 Nov 30;162(1):13-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.04.006. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

Functional analysis of three type-2 DGAT homologue genes for triacylglycerol production in the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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Algae Biotechnology & Bioenergy, Department of Biology, Center for Biotechnology-CeBiTec, Bielefeld University, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany.


Photosynthetic organisms like plants and algae can use sunlight to produce lipids as important metabolic compounds. Plant-derived triacylglycerols (TAGs) are valuable for human and animal nutrition because of their high energy content and are becoming increasingly important for the production of renewable biofuels. Acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferases (DGATs) have been demonstrated to play an important role in the accumulation of TAG compounds in higher plants. DGAT homologue genes have been identified in the genome of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, however their function in vivo is still unknown. In this work, the three most promising type-2 DGAT candidate genes potentially involved in TAG lipid accumulation (CrDGAT2a, b and c) were investigated by constructing overexpression strains. For each of the genes, three strains were identified which showed enhanced mRNA levels of between 1.7 and 29.1 times that of the wild type (wt). Total lipid contents, neutral lipids and fatty acid profiles were determined and showed that an enhanced mRNA expression level of the investigated DGAT genes did not boost the intracellular TAG accumulation or resulted in alterations of the fatty acid profiles compared to wild type during standard growth condition or during nitrogen or sulfur stress conditions. We conclude that biotechnological efforts to enhance cellular TAG amount in microalgae need further insights into the complex network of lipid biosynthesis to identify potential bottlenecks of neutral lipid production.

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