Punicic acid production in Brassica napus

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  • Punicic acid (PuA; 18:3Δ9cis,11trans,13cis), a conjugated linolenic acid isomer bearing three conjugated double bonds, is associated with various health benefits and has potential for industrial use. The major nature source of this unusual fatty acid is pomegranate (Punica granatum) seed oil, which contains up to 80% (w/w) of its fatty acids as PuA. Pomegranate seed oil, however, is low yielding with unstable production and thus limits the supply of PuA. Metabolic engineering of established temperate oil crops for PuA production, therefore, has the potential to be a feasible strategy to overcome the limitations associated with sourcing PuA from pomegranate. In this study, the cDNAs encoding a pomegranate fatty acid conjugase and a pomegranate oleate desaturase were co-expressed in canola-type Brassica napus. Transgenic B. napus lines accumulated up to 11% (w/w) of the total fatty acids as PuA in the seed oil, which is the highest level of PuA reported in metabolically engineered oilseed crops so far. Levels of seed oil PuA were stable over two generations and had no negative effects on seed germination. The transgenic B. napus lines with the highest PuA levels contained multiple transgene insertions and the PuA content of B. napus seed oil was correlated with efficiency of oleic acid desaturation and linoleic acid conjugation. In addition, PuA accumulated at lower levels in polar lipids (5.0–6.9%) than triacylglycerol (7.5–10.6%), and more than 60% of triacylglycerol-associated PuA was present at the sn-2 position. This study provides the basis for the commercial production of PuA in transgenic oilseed crops and thus would open new prospects for the application of this unusual fatty acid in health and industry.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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    • Xu, Y., Mietkiewska, E., Shah, S., Weselake, R. J., & Chen, G. (2020). Punicic acid production in Brassica napus. Metabolic Engineering, 62, 20–29. https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1016/j.ymben.2020.08.011