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J Neurochem. 1985 Sep;45(3):805-9.

Rat brain phosphatidyl-N,N-dimethylethanolamine is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Abstract

Phosphatidyl-N,N-dimethylethanolamine (PDME), an intermediate in the formation of phosphatidylcholine (PC) by the sequential methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), was purified from rat brain and its fatty acid (FA) composition compared with those of brain PC and PE. The proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the PDME (29.8%) was similar to that of PE (27.7%) and much greater than in PC (2.8%). Like the PUFAs of PE, the major PUFAs found in PDME were arachidonic acid (20:4) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6). An isotopic method was developed to quantify the PDME purified from brain; a tritiated methyl group from CH3I was transferred to the PDME in the presence of cyclohexylamine to form [3H]PC, and the radioactivity of the PC was then counted. The concentration of rat brain PDME obtained using this method (33.0 +/- 1.8 micrograms/g brain) was very similar to that obtained using quantitative GLC analysis of its FAs (36.9 +/- 1.8 micrograms/g). The FAs in the PE and PC of rat brain synaptosomes were also analyzed; too little PDME was present in synaptosomes to permit similar analysis. The percentage of unsaturated FAs insynaptosomal PE was even higher (43.4 vs. 27.7) than that in PE prepared from whole brain. Since synaptosomes have a very high activity of phosphatidyl-N-methyltransferase, the enzyme complex that methylates PE to form PC, this enzyme may serve, in nerve endings, to produce a particular pool of PC, rich in PUFAs, which may have a distinct physiological function.

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