Control of fatty acid desaturation: a mechanism conserved from bacteria to humans


  • Pablo S. Aguilar,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-2240, USA.
    2. Institut Pasteur de Montevideo, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay.
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  • Diego De Mendoza

    Corresponding author
    1. Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario (IBR) and Departamento de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, 2000 Rosario, Argentina.
      *E-mail; Tel. (+54) 341 435 1235; Fax (+54) 341 439 0465.
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*E-mail; Tel. (+54) 341 435 1235; Fax (+54) 341 439 0465.


Unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) have profound effects on the fluidity and function of biological membranes. Microorganisms, plants and animals regulate the synthesis of UFAs during changing environmental conditions as well as in response to nutrients. UFAs homeostasis in many organisms is achieved by feedback regulation of fatty acid desaturase gene transcription through signalling pathways that are governed by sensors embedded in cellular membranes. Here, we review recently discovered components of the regulatory machinery governing the transcription of fatty acid desaturases in bacteria, yeasts and animals that indicate an ancient role of transmembrane signalling mechanisms and integrate membrane composition with lipid biosynthesis.