Metabolic control analysis of developing oilseed rape (Brassica napus cv Westar) embryos shows that lipid assembly exerts significant control over oil accumulation


Authors for correspondence:
John L. Harwood
Tel: +44 2920 874108
Tony Fawcett
Tel: +44 191 33 41328


  • Metabolic control analysis allows the study of metabolic regulation. We applied both single- and double-manipulation top-down control analysis to examine the control of lipid accumulation in developing oilseed rape (Brassica napus) embryos.
  • The biosynthetic pathway was conceptually divided into two blocks of reactions (fatty acid biosynthesis (Block A), lipid assembly (Block B)) connected by a single system intermediate, the acyl-coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) pool. Single manipulation used exogenous oleate. Triclosan was used to inhibit specifically Block A, whereas diazepam selectively manipulated flux through Block B.
  • Exogenous oleate inhibited the radiolabelling of fatty acids from [1-14C]acetate, but stimulated that from [U-14C]glycerol into acyl lipids. The calculation of group flux control coefficients showed that c. 70% of the metabolic control was in the lipid assembly block of reactions. Monte Carlo simulations gave an estimation of the error of the resulting group flux control coefficients as 0.27 ± 0.06 for Block A and 0.73 ± 0.06 for Block B.
  • The two methods of control analysis gave very similar results and showed that Block B reactions were more important under our conditions. This contrasts notably with data from oil palm or olive fruit cultures and is important for efforts to increase oilseed rape lipid yields.