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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

Metabolic Pathway

Caption: Metabolic channeling: Scientists traced the pathways by which plant oils were desaturated by fatty acid desaturase (FAD) enzymes. Two subsequent desaturating steps could be performed by two different "homodimers" -- pairs of identical FADs (FAD2-FAD2 followed by FAD3-FAD3) -- or by a heterodimer comprised of FAD2 associated with FAD3. This latter pathway channeled the fatty acid through both desaturation steps without releasing the intermediate compound into the general cell metabolite pool. Engineering such enzyme interactions could offer new ways to direct plant metabolism towards new desired products -- for example, polyunsaturated oils or rare fatty acids that could serve as feedstocks for industrial processes.

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

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