Chinese researchers develop designer TAGs from algae

January 3, 2019 |

In China, research team led by the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has discovered two novel diacylglyceryl transferases (DGAT2s) that preferentially attach linoleic acid (LA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), respectively, to the glycerol backbone to form triacylglycerol from algae.

By modulating the ratio of these specialist enzymes in the cell, a strain bank of the industrial oleaginous microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica was created where the proportions of LA and EPA in TAGs varied by 18.7- and 34.7-fold, respectively.

LA and EPA are both essential fatty acids for human metabolism, but human genomes do not encode the enzymes that directly synthesize these fatty acids. Therefore, humans have to intake LA and EPA via plant or animal TAGs.

The discovery of novel DGATs that selectively assemble LA and EPA into microalgal TAGs thus lays the foundation for producing on a large scale “designer TAGs,” whether present in nature or not, for tailored or even personalized health benefits.

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Category: Research

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