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Keywords:

  • acyl CoA;
  • Brassica napus;
  • β-oxidation;
  • lipid synthesis;
  • medium-chain fatty acids

Summary

Several Brassica napus lines transformed with genes responsible for the synthesis of medium- or long-chain fatty acids were examined to determine limiting factor(s) for the subsequent accumulation of these fatty acids in seed lipids. Examination of a decanoic acid (10:0) accumulating line revealed a disproportionately high concentration of 10:0 CoA during seed development compared to long-chain acyl CoAs isolated from the same tissues, suggesting that poor incorporation of 10:0 CoA into seed lipids limits 10:0 fatty acid accumulation. This relationship was also seen for dodecanoyl (12:0) CoA and fatty acid in a high 12:0 line, but not for octadecanoic (18:0) CoA and fatty acid in a high 18:0 line. Comparison of 10:0 CoA and fatty acid proportions from seeds at different developmental stages for transgenic B. napus and Cuphea hookeriana, the source plant for the medium-chain thioesterase and 3-ketoacyl-ACP synthase transgenes, revealed that C. hookeriana incorporates 10:0 CoA into seed lipids more efficiently than transgenic B. napus. Furthermore, β-oxidation and glyoxylate cycle activities were not increased above wild type levels during seed development in the 8:0/10:0 line, suggesting that lipid catabolism was not being induced in response to the elevated 10:0 CoA concentrations. Taken together, these data suggest that transgenic plants that are engineered to synthesize medium-chain fatty acids may lack the necessary mechanisms, such as specific acyltransferases, to incorporate these fatty acids efficiently into seed lipids.