Multiple mechanisms contribute to increased neutral lipid accumulation in yeast producing recombinant variants of plant diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1

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  • The apparent bottleneck in the accumulation of oil during seed development in some oleaginous plant species is the formation of triacylglycerol (TAG) by the acyl-CoA-dependent acylation of sn-1,2- diacylglycerol catalyzed by diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT, EC Improving DGAT activity using protein engineering could lead to improvements in seed oil yield, for example in canola-type Brassica napus. Directed evolution of B. napus DGAT1 (BnaDGAT1) previously revealed that one of the regions where amino acid residue substitutions leading to higher performance in BnaDGAT1 was in the ninth predicted transmembrane domain (PTMD9). In this study, several BnaDGAT1 variants with amino acid residue substitutions in PTMD9 were characterized. Among these enzyme variants, the extent of yeast TAG production was affected by different mechanisms including increased enzyme activity, increased polypeptide accumulation and possibly reduced substrate inhibition. The kinetic properties of the BnaDGAT1 variants were affected by the amino acid residue substitutions and a new kinetic model based on substrate inhibition and sigmoidicity was generated. Based on sequence alignment and further biochemical analysis, the amino acid residue substitutions that conferred increased TAG accumulation were shown to be present in the DGAT1-PTMD9 region of other higher plant species. When amino acid residue substitutions that increased BnaDGAT1 enzyme activity were introduced into recombinant Camelina sativa DGAT1, they also improved enzyme performance. Thus, the knowledge generated from directed evolution of DGAT1 in one plant species can be transferred to other plant species and has potentially broad applications in genetic engineering of oleaginous crops and microorganisms.

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    Copyright © 2017, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology