WRINKLED1 Rescues Feedback Inhibition of Fatty Acid Synthesis in Hydroxylase-Expressing Seeds

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Chemistry and Biochemistry


Previous attempts at engineering Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) to produce seed oils containing hydroxy fatty acids (HFA) have resulted in low yields of HFA compared with the native castor (Ricinus communis) plant and caused undesirable effects, including reduced total oil content. Recent studies have led to an understanding of problems involved in the accumulation of HFA in oils of transgenic plants, which include metabolic bottlenecks and a decrease in the rate of fatty acid synthesis. Focusing on engineering the triacylglycerol assembly mechanisms led to modest increases in the HFA content of seed oil, but much room for improvement still remains. We hypothesized that engineering fatty acid synthesis in the plastids to increase flux would facilitate enhanced total incorporation of fatty acids, including HFA, into seed oil. The transcription factor WRINKLED1 (WRI1) positively regulates the expression of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis and controls seed oil levels. We overexpressed Arabidopsis WRI1 in seeds of a transgenic line expressing the castor fatty acid hydroxylase. The proportion of HFA in the oil, the total HFA per seed, and the total oil content of seeds increased to an average of 20.9%, 1.26 µg, and 32.2%, respectively, across five independent lines, compared with 17.6%, 0.83 µg, and 27.9%, respectively, for isogenic segregants. WRI1 and WRI1-regulated genes involved in fatty acid synthesis were up-regulated, providing for a corresponding increase in the rate of fatty acid synthesis.

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Plant Physiology





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