Catalytic Plasticity of Fatty Acid Modification Enzymes Underlying Chemical Diversity of Plant Lipids

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Science  13 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5392, pp. 1315-1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5392.1315

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Higher plants exhibit extensive diversity in the composition of seed storage fatty acids. This is largely due to the presence of various combinations of double or triple bonds and hydroxyl or epoxy groups, which are synthesized by a family of structurally similar enzymes. As few as four amino acid substitutions can convert an oleate 12-desaturase to a hydroxylase and as few as six result in conversion of a hydroxylase to a desaturase. These results illustrate how catalytic plasticity of these diiron enzymes has contributed to the evolution of the chemical diversity found in higher plants.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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