Classification and substrate head-group specificity of membrane fatty acid desaturases

Dongdi Li, Ruth Moorman, Thomas Vanhercke, James Petrie, Surinder Singh, Colin J. Jackson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Membrane fatty acid desaturases are a diverse superfamily of enzymes that catalyze the introduction of double bonds into fatty acids. They are essential in a range of metabolic processes, such as the production of omega-3 fatty acids. However, our structure–function understanding of this superfamily is still developing and their range of activities and substrate specificities are broad, and often overlapping, which has made their systematic characterization challenging. A central issue with characterizing these proteins has been the lack of a structural model, which has been overcome with the recent publication of the crystal structures of two mammalian fatty acid desaturases. In this work, we have used sequence similarity networks to investigate the similarity among over 5000 related membrane fatty acid desaturase sequences, leading to a detailed classification of the superfamily, families and subfamilies with regard to their function and substrate head-group specificity. This work will facilitate rapid prediction of the function and specificity of new and existing sequences, as well as forming a basis for future efforts to manipulate the substrate specificity of these proteins for biotechnology applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)341-349
    Number of pages9
    JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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