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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Apr 14;95(8):4209-14.

Light-induced expression of fatty acid desaturase genes.

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Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary.


In cyanobacterial cells, fatty acid desaturation is one of the crucial steps in the acclimation processes to low-temperature conditions. The expression of all the four acyl lipid desaturase genes of Synechocystis PCC 6803 was studied as a function of temperature and separately as a function of light. We used cells grown at 25 degreesC in light-activated heterotrophic growth conditions. In these cells, the production of alpha-linolenic acid and 18:4 fatty acids was negligible and the synthesis of gamma-linolenic acid was remarkably suppressed compared with those of the cells grown photoautotrophically. The cells grown in the light in the presence of glucose showed no difference in fatty acid composition compared with cells grown photoautotrophically. The level of desC mRNA for delta9 desaturase was not affected by either the temperature or the light. It was constitutively expressed at 25 degreesC with and without illumination. The level of desB transcripts was negligible in the dark-grown cells and was enhanced about 10-fold by exposure of the cells to light. The maximum level of expression occurred within 15 min. The level of desA and desD mRNAs was higher in dark-grown cells than that of desB mRNA for omega3 desaturase. However, the induction of both desA and desD mRNAs for delta12 and delta6 desaturases, respectively, was enhanced by light about 10-fold. Rifampicin, chloramphenicol, and 3-(3, 4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea completely blocked the induction of the expression of desA, desB, and desD. Consequently, we suggest the regulatory role of light via photosynthetic processes in the induction of the expression of acyl lipid desaturases.

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