Characterization of three novel desaturases involved in the delta-6 desaturation pathways for polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis from Phytophthora infestans

Q. Sun, J. Liu, Q. Zhang, X. Qing, G. Dobson, X. Li, B. Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Phytophthora infestans is the causative agent of potato blight that resulted in the great famine in Ireland in the nineteenth century. This microbe can release large amounts of the C20 very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4Δ5,3,8,11,14) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5Δ5,8,11,14,17) upon invasion that is known to elicit a hypersensitive response to their host plant. In order to identify enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of these fatty acids, we blasted the recently fully sequenced P. infestans genome and identified three novel putatively encoding desaturase sequences. These were subsequently functionally characterized by expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and confirmed that they encode desaturases with Δ12, Δ6 and Δ5 activity, designated here as PinDes12, PinDes6 and PinDes5, respectively. This, together with the combined fatty acid profiles and a previously identified Δ6 elongase activity, implies that the ARA and EPA are biosynthesized predominantly via the Δ6 desaturation pathways in P. infestans. Elucidation of ARA and EPA biosynthetic mechanism may provide new routes to combating this potato blight microbe directly or by means of conferring resistance to important crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7689-7697
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number17
Early online date11 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


Cite this