Expression of a borage desaturase cDNA containing an N-terminal cytochrome b5 domain results in the accumulation of high levels of D6-desaturated fatty acids in transgenic tobacco.

Sayanova O., Smith M., Lapinskas P., Stobart K., Dobson G., Christie W. W., Shewry P. R. and Napier J. A. (1997).
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 94(8) pp 4211 - 4216.
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g-Linolenic acid (GLA; C18:3 D6,9,12) is a component of the seed oils of evening primrose (Oenothera spp.), borage (Borago officinalis L.), and some other plants. It is widely used as a dietary supplement and for treatment of various medical conditions. GLA is synthesized by a D6-fatty acid desaturase using linoleic acid (C18:2 D9,12) as a substrate. To enable the production of GLA in conventional oilseeds, we have isolated a cDNA encoding the D6-fatty acid desaturase from developing seeds of borage and confirmed its function by expression in transgenic tobacco plants. Analysis of leaf lipids from a transformed plant demonstrated the accumulation of GLA and octadecatetraenoic acid (C18:4 D6,9,12,15) to levels of 13.2% and 9.6% of the total fatty acids, respectively. The borage D6-fatty acid desaturase differs from other desaturase enzymes, characterized from higher plants previously, by the presence of an N-terminal domain related to cytochrome b5.

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