Pathways of Lipid Metabolism in Marine Algae, Co-Expression Network, Bottlenecks and Candidate Genes for Enhanced Production of EPA and DHA in Species of Chromista
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMarine Drugs. 2013, 11 (11), 4662-4697. 10.3390/md11114662
The importance of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) for human health has received more focus the last decades, and the global consumption of n-3 LC-PUFA has increased. Seafood, the natural n-3 LC-PUFA source, is harvested beyond a sustainable capacity, and it is therefore imperative to develop alternative n-3 LC-PUFA sources for both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3). Genera of algae such as Nannochloropsis, Schizochytrium, Isochrysis and Phaedactylum within the kingdom Chromista have received attention due to their ability to produce n-3 LC-PUFAs. Knowledge of LC-PUFA synthesis and its regulation in algae at the molecular level is fragmentary and represents a bottleneck for attempts to enhance the n-3 LC-PUFA levels for industrial production. In the present review, Phaeodactylum tricornutum has been used to exemplify the synthesis and compartmentalization of n-3 LC-PUFAs. Based on recent transcriptome data a co-expression network of 106 genes involved in lipid metabolism has been created. Together with recent molecular biological and metabolic studies, a model pathway for n-3 LC-PUFA synthesis in P. tricornutum has been proposed, and is compared to industrialized species of Chromista. Limitations of the n-3 LC-PUFA synthesis by enzymes such as thioesterases, elongases, acyl-CoA synthetases and acyltransferases are discussed and metabolic bottlenecks are hypothesized such as the supply of the acetyl-CoA and NADPH. A future industrialization will depend on optimization of chemical compositions and increased biomass production, which can be achieved by exploitation of the physiological potential, by selective breeding and by genetic engineering.