Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 2308–2321 | Cite as

Functional characterization of a Δ6 fatty acid desaturase gene and its 5′-upstream region cloned from the arachidonic acidrich microalga Myrmecia incisa Reisigl (Chlorophyta)

  • Li Zhang (张利)
  • Haisheng Cao (曹海生)
  • Pu Ning (宁璞)
  • Zhigang Zhou (周志刚)Email author


It is suggested that Δ6 fatty acid desaturase (FAD) plays a critical role in the biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids in plants and microalgae. But why does it adapt to the changed environments such as nitrogen starvation is seldom understood. One Δ6 FAD gene ( MiD6fad ) from an arachidonic acidrich microalga Myrmecia incisa Reisigl (Chlorophyta) was first heterologously expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the identification of function. The fatty acid profile of transgenic yeast detected by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry illustrated that the enzyme MiD6FAD could convert linoleic and α - linolenic acids to γ-linolenic and stearidonic acids, respectively, demonstrating that MiD6fad encoded a Δ6 FAD. A 1 965-bp fragment of the cloned 2 347-bp 5′-upstream region of MiD6fad was next subcloned and fused upstream with green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene to replace the GAL1 promoter of the vector pYES2. The generated construct was transformed into S. cerevisiae for function determination. Confocal microscopic images of the transformed line illustrated that this inserted fragment could drive GFP expression, which was further verified by fluorescence intensity quantification and Western blot analysis using anti- GFP antibody. The conversion efficiency (approximately 2% - 3%) of MiD6FAD was much lower than the reported ω 3 FAD and Δ6 elongase in this microalga, suggesting that MiD6FAD catalysed the possible ratelimiting step for ArA biosynthesis. The presence of several putative cis -acting regulatory elements in this identified promoter sheds new light on the regulation mechanism research of Δ6 FAD transcription for the ArA production in M. incisa in changing environmental factors.


arachidonic acid (ArA) fatty acid desaturase (FAD) green fluorescent protein (GFP) green microalga Saccharomyces cerevisiae 5′-upstream region (5′-USR) 


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Functional characterization of a Δ6 fatty acid desaturase gene and its 5′-upstream region cloned from the arachidonic acidrich microalga Myrmecia incisa Reisigl (Chlorophyta)


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li Zhang (张利)
    • 1
  • Haisheng Cao (曹海生)
    • 1
  • Pu Ning (宁璞)
    • 1
  • Zhigang Zhou (周志刚)
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources Conferred by Ministry of EducationShanghai Ocean UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.National Demonstration Center for the Experimental Teaching of Fisheries ScienceShanghai Ocean UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.International Research Center for Marine Biosciences Conferred by Ministry of Science and TechnologyShanghai Ocean UniversityShanghaiChina

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