Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 345–350 | Cite as

A Novel ω3-Desaturase in the Deep Sea Giant Tubeworm Riftia pachyptila

  • Helu Liu
  • Hui Wang
  • Shanya Cai
  • Haibin ZhangEmail author
Original Article


One paradox of the trophic biochemistry of the deep sea giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila, endemic to hydrothermal vent sites and nourished by polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) deficiency chemolitoautotrophic sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, is the source of their PUFAs. Biosynthesis of PUFA starts with two precursors C18:2n-6 and C18:3n-3, which cannot be biosynthesized by most animals due to lack of ω6- and ω3-desaturase; thus, C18:2n-6 and C18:3n-3 are generally essential fatty acids for animals. Here, we characterized a gene derived from the R. pachyptila located by hydrothermal vent, which encoded a novel ω3-desaturase (Rp3Fad). The gene was identified by searching the R. pachyptila transcriptome database using known ω3-desaturases, and its predicted protein showed 37–45% identical to ω3-desaturases of fungus and microalgae, and only 31% identitical to nematode Caenorhabditis elegans ω3-desaturase. Expression in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed that the Rp3Fad could desaturate C18:2n-6 and C18:3n-6 into C18:3n-3 and C18:4n-3, respectively, displaying a Δ15 activity similar to plant ω3-desaturase, but it showed no activity towards C20 n-6 PUFA substrates, differing from the well-characterized C. elegans ω3-desaturases. Δ5, Δ6, Δ8, and Δ12 activity were also tested, resulting in no corresponding production. The function of ω3-desaturase identified in R. pachyptila could produce C18:3n − 3 used in synthesis of n − 3 series PUFAs, suggesting an adaption to PUFA deficiency environment in deep sea hydrothermal vent.


Giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila PUFA biosynthesis Fatty acid Deep sea hydrothermal vent 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (41606152, 41576127), Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS (XDB06010104), Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (SIDSSE–201401, SIDSSE–QN–201407), “Hundred Talents Program” of CAS (SIDSSE–BR–201401, Y510021), and Major scientific and technological projects of Hainan Province (ZDKJ2016009 and ZDKJ2016012).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Deep Sea Science and EngineeringChinese Academy of ScienceSanyaChina

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