Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 34, Issue 7, pp 1283–1296 | Cite as

Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) desaturase with Δ6/Δ8 dual activities

  • Wei-Chun Tu
  • Rebecca J. Cook-Johnson
  • Michael J. James
  • Beverly S. Mühlhäusler
  • David A. J. Stone
  • Robert A. Gibson
Original Research Paper


Barramundi is a commercially farmed fish in Australia. To examine the potential for barramundi to metabolise dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3 n-3), the existence of barramundi desaturase enzymes was examined. A putative fatty acid Δ6 desaturase was cloned from barramundi liver and expressed in yeast. Functional expression revealed Δ6 desaturase activity with both the 18 carbon (C18) and C24 n-3 fatty acids, ALA and 24:5 n-3 as well as the C18 n-6 fatty, linoleic acid (LA, 18:2 n-6). Metabolism of ALA was favoured over LA. The enzyme also had Δ8 desaturase activity which raises the potential for synthesis in barramundi of omega-3 (n-3) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids from ALA via a pathway that bypasses the initial Δ6 desaturase step. Our findings not only provide molecular evidence for the fatty acid desaturation pathway in the barramundi but also highlight the importance of taking extracellular fatty acid levels into account when assessing enzyme activity expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


Barramundi Δ6 desaturase Extracellular fatty acids α-Linolenic acid Lipid metabolism n-3 LCPUFA 

Supplementary material

10529_2012_891_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei-Chun Tu
    • 1
  • Rebecca J. Cook-Johnson
    • 2
  • Michael J. James
    • 2
  • Beverly S. Mühlhäusler
    • 1
  • David A. J. Stone
    • 3
  • Robert A. Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.FOODplus Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Waite CampusUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Rheumatology UnitRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.South Australian Research and Development InstituteAdelaideAustralia

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