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Plant Physiol. 1995 May;108(1):399-409.

Alteration of seed fatty acid composition by an ethyl methanesulfonate-induced mutation in Arabidopsis thaliana affecting diacylglycerol acyltransferase activity.

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  • 1National Research Council of Canada, Plant Biotechnology Institute, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


In characterizing the enzymes involved in the formation of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) in the Brassicaceae, we have generated a series of mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana that have reduced VLCFA content. Here we report the characterization of a seed lipid mutant, AS11, which, in comparison to wild type (WT), has reduced levels of 20:1 and 18:1 and accumulates 18:3 as the major fatty acid in triacylglycerols. Proportions of 18:2 remain similar to WT. Genetic analyses indicate that the fatty acid phenotype is caused by a semidominant mutation in a single nuclear gene, designated TAG1, located on chromosome 2. Biochemical analyses have shown that the AS11 phenotype is not due to a deficiency in the capacity to elongate 18:1 or to an increase in the relative delta 15 or delta 12 desaturase activities. Indeed, the ratio of desaturase/elongase activities measured in vitro is virtually identical in developing WT and AS11 seed homogenates. Rather, the fatty acid phenotype of AS11 is the result of reduced diacylglycerol acyltransferase activity throughout development, such that triacylglycerol biosynthesis is reduced. This leads to a reduction in 20:1 biosynthesis during seed development, leaving more 18:1 available for desaturation. Thus, we have demonstrated that changes to triacylglycerol biosynthesis can result in dramatic changes in fatty acid composition and, in particular, in the accumulation of VLCFAs in seed storage lipids.

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