The Repertoire of Desaturases for Unsaturated Fatty Acid Synthesis in 397 Genomes

Kosuke Hashimoto (
Akiyasu C. Yoshizawa (
Koichi Saito (
Takuji Yamada (
Minoru Kanehisa (

Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Gokasho, Uji, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan


Fatty acids are the major components of membrane molecules. The fact that unsaturated fatty acids play multiple important roles, physically and biologically, means that the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids in the membrane needs to be strictly regulated to maintain cellular homeostasis. The most ubiquitous and widespread modification to fatty acids, which results in a great diversity of different structures, is the insertion of double bonds. Fatty acid desaturases directly introduce regioselective double bonds into fatty acids. A phylogenetic analysis of desaturases suggests that the sequences of these proteins include a highly conserved domain, which determines the differences in specificity and regioselectivity found in these enzymes. In this study, we performed a systematic analysis of fatty acid desaturases found in the genomic data of 397 organisms. We obtained a set of desaturases clustered by regioselectivity using a hierarchal clustering analysis.

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Japanese Society for Bioinformatics