Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important crop that is cultivated for the oil (mainly triacylglycerol; TAG) it produces in its seeds. TAG synthesis is controlled mainly by key enzymes in the Kennedy pathway, such as glycerol 3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT), lysophosphatidate acyltransferase (LPAT) and diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) but can also be produced from phosphoglycerides such as phosphatidylcholine (PC) by the activity of the enzyme phospholipid: diacylglycerol acyltransferase (PDAT). To evaluate the potential for these enzymes to alter oil yields or composition, we analysed transgenic B. napus lines which overexpressed GPAT, LPAT or PDAT using heterologous transgenes from Arabidopsis and Nasturtium and examined lipid profiles and changes in gene expression in these lines compared to WT. Distinct changes in PC and TAG abundance and spatial distribution in embryonic tissues were observed in some of the transgenic lines, together with altered expression of genes involved generally in acyl-lipid metabolism. Overall our results show that up-regulation of these key enzymes differentially affects lipid composition and distribution as well as lipid-associated gene expression, providing important information which could be used to improve crop properties by metabolic engineering.
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