Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 827–843 | Cite as

Investigation of highly unsaturated fatty acid metabolism in the Asian sea bass, Lates calcarifer

  • N. Y. Mohd-YusofEmail author
  • O. Monroig
  • A. Mohd-Adnan
  • K.-L. Wan
  • D. R. Tocher


Lates calcarifer, commonly known as the Asian sea bass or barramundi, is an interesting species that has great aquaculture potential in Asia including Malaysia and also Australia. We have investigated essential fatty acid metabolism in this species, focusing on the endogenous highly unsaturated fatty acid (HUFA) synthesis pathway using both biochemical and molecular biological approaches. Fatty acyl desaturase (Fad) and elongase (Elovl) cDNAs were cloned and functional characterization identified them as ∆6 Fad and Elovl5 elongase enzymes, respectively. The ∆6 Fad was equally active toward 18:3n-3 and 18:2n-6, and Elovl5 exhibited elongation activity for C18–20 and C20–22 elongation and a trace of C22–24 activity. The tissue profile of gene expression for ∆6 fad and elovl5 genes, showed brain to have the highest expression of both genes compared to all other tissues. The results of tissue fatty acid analysis showed that the brain contained more docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) than flesh, liver and intestine. The HUFA synthesis activity in isolated hepatocytes and enterocytes using [1-14C]18:3n-3 as substrate was very low with the only desaturated product detected being 18:4n-3. These findings indicate that L. calcarifer display an essential fatty acid pattern similar to other marine fish in that they appear unable to synthesize HUFA from C18 substrates. High expression of ∆6 fad and elovl5 genes in brain may indicate a role for these enzymes in maintaining high DHA levels in neural tissues through conversion of 20:5n-3.


Fatty acid Metabolism Desaturase Elongase cDNA Functional characterization 



This project was supported by the Genomics and Molecular Biology Initiatives Programme of the Malaysia Genome Institute, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia (Project No. 07-05-16-MGI-GMB009). The authors would like to acknowledge technical support provided by Nik Daud Nik Sin from the Fisheries Research Institute, Malaysia, and Nial Auchinachie at the tropical aquarium and James Dick in the nutrition lab in the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, UK. OM was supported by a EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (PIEF-GA-2008-220929, COBIAGENE).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Y. Mohd-Yusof
    • 1
    Email author
  • O. Monroig
    • 2
  • A. Mohd-Adnan
    • 1
    • 3
  • K.-L. Wan
    • 1
    • 3
  • D. R. Tocher
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biosciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaSelangor DEMalaysia
  2. 2.Institute of AquacultureUniversity of StirlingStirlingScotland, UK
  3. 3.Malaysia Genome Institute, Heliks Emas Block, UKM-MTDC Technology CentreUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaSelangor DEMalaysia

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