Citation Kabeya N, Sanz Jorquera A, Carboni S, Davie A, Oboh A & Monroig O (2017) Biosynthesis of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Sea Urchins: Molecular and Functional Characterisation of Three Fatty Acyl Desaturases from Paracentrotus lividus (Lamark 1816). PLoS ONE, 12 (1), Art. No.: e0169374. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169374
Abstract Sea urchins are broadly recognised as a delicacy and their quality as food for humans is highly influenced by their diet. Lipids in general and the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) in particular, are essential nutrients that determine not only the nutritional value of sea urchins but also guarantee normal growth and reproduction in captivity. The contribution of endogenous production (biosynthesis) of LC-PUFA in sea urchins remained unknown. Using Paracentrotus lividus as our model species, we aimed to characterise both molecularly and functionally the repertoire of fatty acyl desaturases (Fads), key enzymes in the biosynthesis of LC-PUFA, in sea urchins. Three Fads, namely FadsA, FadsC1 and FadsC2, were characterised. The phylogenetic analyses suggested that the repertoire of Fads within the Echinodermata phylum varies among classes. On one hand, orthologues of the P. lividus FadsA were found in other echinoderm classes including starfishes, brittle stars and sea cucumbers, thus suggesting that this desaturase is virtually present in all echi- noderms. Contrarily, the FadsC appears to be sea urchin-specific desaturase. Finally, a fur- ther desaturase termed as FadsB exists in starfishes, brittle stars and sea cucumbers, but appears to be missing in sea urchins. The functional characterisation of the P. lividus Fads confirmed that the FadsA was a Δ5 desaturase with activity towards saturated and polyun- saturated fatty acids (FA). Moreover, our experiments confirmed that FadsA plays a role in the biosynthesis of non-methylene interrupted FA, a group of compounds typically found in marine invertebrates. On the other hand, both FadsC desaturases from P. lividus showed Δ8 activity. The present results demonstrate that P. lividus possesses desaturases that account for all the desaturation reactions required to biosynthesis the physiological essential eicosapentaenoic and arachidonic acids through the so-called “Δ8 pathway”.